Viroqua Food Co+op welcomes Peter Rowe, the new Customer Service Manager and Deborah Ecklund-Staum, the Assistant Customer Service Manager! As the store expands, so do their roles in guiding the Customer Service Team.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Jackie Rebman, VFC’s Customer Service Manager for almost 13 years, for her leadership and focus on providing “enlightened hospitality” to VFC shoppers. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors!
Here are Peter and Deborah to tell you a bit about themselves:
For more than two decades, the Driftless Valley has been my Walden – an ode to simple living during a complicated corporate life.
Starting in the 1980s, I followed a public relations career that took my family and I from Chicago to Denver, Detroit, Dallas, Seattle and back to Chicago. Every summer, we spent at least two vacation weeks at my wife’s family’s 3rd generation dairy farm south of Viroqua off Highway 27. As a road cyclist, miles and miles of the best two-lane blacktop in America were part of the attraction. Discovering the VFC (after the store’s move to the current location) sealed the deal. There was/is something about the vibe of the place that gathers together all the area’s best characteristics – high-quality, natural food and a crew that never failed to make me happy to spend time here as a customer.
Last May, facing the prospect of yet another move, I hung up my corporate career. With the kids in college, my wife and I (and our Border Collie) moved to the farm full-time... and I took an entry-level job at the VFC as a cashier. With a Bachelor’s degree in History and an MBA in Finance, it wasn’t the logical career step. But, from day-one, I haven’t looked back.
The roads and the food and the people are all as fresh as they were when I first discovered the area 30 years ago. The chance to lead the Customer Service team through expansion, while nurturing and helping grow a culture of enlightened hospitality gives me all the professional challenge I need at this point. But mostly, I’m just having a ball.
When the Co-op first opened in 1996, I’d walk with my friends to the little store after school. We would volunteer by sweeping up and repacking bulk items, like dried fruit. I was very proud to volunteer enough hours to earn 20% off my bags of Barbara’s Jalapeño Cheesepuffs. It was a big deal for my 13-year-old self!
I’ve been working full time at the Co-op since 2007. I started as a baker after being a stay-at-home mom with twin boys. I was very excited to bake cookies all day, get paid for it, and not eat them all myself. I thoroughly enjoyed baking, but eventually transferred to Customer Service after my daughter was born.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed getting to know our co-op community; welcoming new visitors and familiar VFC Owners. Whether they’re passing through or coming to stay, I enjoy hearing how people end up in Viroqua.
I like to bridge the old with the new, so the chance to lead the Customer Service Team through this journey of expansion is such a cool next chapter in my history at the Co-op!