by John Hatton
Sabine Rhyne is happy, excited, and looking forward. She has a new job in which she gets to combine almost all of her work experience: a long history of working in the cooperative world, her excellent sense of customer service, a strong background in retail, marketing, planning, management, communication, and understanding and meeting the needs of member-owners. Not sure yet where her renowned expertise as a cellist may come in, but time will tell. Sabine Rhyne is the new General Manager of the Brattleboro Food Co-op.
In the 1980s, Sabine worked for a gourmet fruit stand, in restaurants, and then at Bread & Circus—now Whole Foods—in the Boston area. She then went to Northeast Cooperatives, in its early days in Cambridge. She took orders over the phone, picked up the items in the warehouse, and then “drove truck,” delivering the goods. Sabine moved with Northeast Cooperatives to Brattleboro in 1989, and was the interim General Manager before a new GM was hired; she became NEC’s Marketing Manager, and later, Project Manager for building the new warehouse on Technology Drive. She worked at NEC for 17 years, and developed many skills along the way.
Sabine then followed her music to become the director at the Brattleboro Music Center, teaching cello at the same time. She plays chamber music often, and has contributed to several local singer-songwriters’ CDs. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Sabine was a bass player in a rocking blues band. Sabine had pursued her undergraduate degree in Applied Music at UNC Chapel Hill, and then graduated Summa Cum Laude from Smith College with a degree in Anthropology and Sociology.
Our new GM has an expansive support system available to her as she acclimates to her new job. She has regular meetings with Alex Gyori, who has laid out a curriculum that focuses on structure, staff, goals, and profitability. The National Cooperative Grocers’ Association (NCG) and Neighboring Food Co-ops Association (NFCA) are both sources of networking and backing; GMs from other co-ops across the country are ready and willing to help, just an email or phone call away. Because of her long history in the cooperative world, Sabine knows many of these GMs, and whom to contact for which questions. Cooperative Development Services (CDS) has developed a GM mentoring program that is also available.
Sabine is scheduling time with each of the Co-op’s managers, to hear their ideas for and about the Co-op. She also plans to meet with the store’s vendors, since she sees them as having important perspectives on our Co-op. And she’ll continue what she has always done, meeting with and listening to staff and shareholders. “Everyone has an idea of how to achieve our mission. The Brattleboro Food Co-op is a composite of all of our stakeholders.” Sabine has always been known for her skill and interest in listening to different points of view—and she plans to do lots of that.
On her own time, Sabine likes to dig in the dirt, play and listen to music, play golf, and ride her motorcycle.
A warm welcome to our new General Manager, Sabine Rhyne! Bonne chance, and bon voyage!