Rob Pengelly

“I want people to engage with one another toward the aspiration of Weaver Street Market strengthening as a community hub. Customers, workers, and vendors all benefit from the experiences that a healthy co-op provides.”

Describe your occupation and community involvement. I am currently the Store Manager of REI Durham. I have worked there since October, 2003 where I started as a part-time sales specialist. I have held several positions over the years at both the Durham and Cary locations. I have been in my current role for almost three years.

I am passionate about like-minded people within a community being able to engage with one another and ultimately have a more fulfilling experience in whatever setting they aspire to do so. The outdoors, active recreation, stewardship and agriculture are areas where I personally connect with this passion. After moving to North Carolina in December of 2000 I have involved myself at the community level in various ways. I have worked for a local non-profit to promote environmental education, canvassed door-to-door for stewardship issues I believe in, volunteered at the Carrboro Weaver Street Market store, personally participated in environmental service projects, been a part of Paperhand Puppet Intervention, volunteered time as a youth soccer coach, helped at our local farmers market, and supported my wife’s farming business to become a reality.

PengellyWhy do you want to serve on the Board of Directors? I want to serve on the Board of Directors because I want to deepen my connection to the community that I live in and love. Having not served on a Board before this will be a new and challenging experience for me. One that I am ready and excited for!

I want to gain the experience of working with a small group of dedicated individuals to drive a successful, local co-op business forward. I believe in strengthening relationships with existing customers and enticing new ones. I sense opportunity to expand connections with local, regional, organic and natural producers. North Carolina, and specifically Orange County, is my home and I want an experience where I can use my knowledge and skills to make a difference.

What experience do you have with Weaver Street Market, cooperatives, or small community-minded businesses? One of the first things I did when I moved to North Carolina from Vermont was to join Weaver Street Market. I had self-studied sustainable agriculture practices and co-op business models while at university and was thrilled to find out that Weaver Street Market existed. I have shopped with Weaver Street, almost exclusively, since I joined in 2001 and have spent time in all three locations. I am also very familiar with the cooperative business model having worked for REI for almost thirteen years. I see on a regular basis how the experience you provide members and guests drives a symbiotic relationship at a personal and community level.

I have also spent a significant amount of time working with my wife’s local farm, Fieldstone Garden, over the past two years. Her passion is to grow and provide our local community with a source of naturally grown fruits, vegetables and flowers. She has also set about connecting other small, local businesses to her customers. My involvement with her knowledge and expertise continues to be a great source of excitement for me.

What experience, skills, or perspective will you bring to the Board? I see the greatest experience, perspective, and skills that I will bring to the Board being those of a committed customer, community member and retailer, respectively.

I have worked in retail almost continually for the past twenty years and have a solid perspective on the vision, dedication and flexibility needed to provide a great customer experience. The notion of putting “small considerations into a perspective guided by a larger view” is one familiar to me as a retail manager. I work as part of a team collaborating to drive business forward, while maintaining a set of core values, for the benefit of both members and employees.

Similarly, I have been a Weaver Street Market customer for the past fifteen years and now, as a husband to a local farmer and father of two young kids, believe I have a solid understanding of what it means to be a dedicated consumer-owner. Through observation and personal experience I see how owners use the co-op, how we are communicated to and have ideas regarding turning owner needs into organizational goals.

Include anything else about yourself that you may like others to know. I love to be outdoors! I love to run, backpack and hike. I also like riding bikes and kayaking. Ultimately, if it involves being outside I’ll probably try it once, if I haven’t already.

This year I have rekindled my passion for having my hands in the dirt. I worked for a season at an organic farm in Vermont in 1999. While I’ve helped my wife with projects before, this year I am spending as much as time as I can out in the fields. I am also building connections with friends and neighbors respectively involved in small-scale beekeeping and pasture raised pork.

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