There is no doubt that the Wellington Co-op is unofficially the heart of this small and vibrant island community located in the western part of Prince Edward Island. The former board chair of the Wellington Co-op, Lisa Arsenault, would agree.
“The Co-ops are very strong in our community, they have been for years,” she says. “With COVID, a lot of people didn’t want to travel outside of the community. The past two years have shown how important and how vital the grocery store aspect is to our community.”
The importance to the community is not surprising considering the Wellington Co-op has served the community for over 80 years, opening its doors in 1940. The Co-op, which is owned by its members, currently employs approximately 25 workers and has over 3,000 members.
“I’d say half of those are very active members, we’ll see them in the store weekly, or even more often, so we have about 1500 active members for sure,” says Lisa.
The Wellington Co-op prides itself on offering a variety of local products that the community loves, says Lisa.
In addition to this, the Wellington Co-op also strives to collaborate with other local organizations in the area.
“We come to the Rural Action Centre for help with organizing community events. We host things like picnics and barbecues and the co-op week that occurs in October,” says Lisa. “The Rural Action Centre helps us with these events.”
Besides going to the Rural Action Centre for help with their events, the Wellington Co-op also attends training and events the Centre hosts.
“We’ve had our employees come to the Rural Action Centre to attend different seminars and courses and even our board of directors attended a board member protocols seminar and training they provided for us.”
Being an active member of the Wellington community, Lisa understands the importance of having an organization like the Rural Action Centre as a resource.
“It’s important because it helps small businesses and bigger businesses too actually,” she says. “These businesses might have a hard time doing in-house training because they don’t have all the skills that the Rural Action Centre would have access to through the contacts that they have. Those sorts of things are important to grow your business and keep moving forward.”
Lisa has always believed that it’s important to be involved in some sort of organization in her community, so she decided to join the Co-op board. Thanks to great staff and the support of the community and other organizations, her time on the board was enjoyable.
“We have a great staff, they’re easy and great to work with,” says Lisa. “And places like the Rural Action Centre are there to help move our initiatives forward.”
Lisa has no hesitation in recommending the Rural Action Centre to others in her community.
“Basically we have this resource at our fingertips,” she says. “They’re great to deal with. You give them a call, tell them what you’re planning and they’re off and running.
You’re very much able to engage with them and they will listen to you and give you a plan or provide you with scenarios with how they’re going to assist you. It’s just great.”
In Lisa’s opinion, the Rural Action Centre strengthens the Wellington community as a whole.
“I find the Rural Action Centre works well with the other community organizations that we deal with,” she says. “It’s always the Rural Action Centre, the RDEE, and the SBDC and the Credit Union, and we can work together to pull off these nice big events for the community.
So they’re not just siloed. They [Rural Action Centre] work with other organizations to provide the best service they can!”