Embrace your destiny with arms open wide Prosperity and success will not be denied And the teams you lead will be filled with pride
—Poem by Doren Hall
I started my new job at the Co-op on Monday, March 13. It was a pretty day, a good bit colder than I’m used to, but still beautiful and topped by a big blue sky. Little did I know my first week would be trial by snow! The next day a nor’easter dropped nearly two feet of the white stuff on this amazing Upper Valley I now call home. I knew that day, driving to work in the snowstorm, that my new job would be a welcome adventure.
My name is Doren Hall, and I am the new store manager for the Lebanon Co-op, a busy, bustling food store in the Centerra Marketplace on Rt 120 in Lebanon, NH.
The Lebanon Co-op turns 20 this year, and over the past 20 years it has gained a very loyal following. It opened in 1997 to give some much-needed relief to our Hanover store, which was so busy at the time it was bursting at the seams. Now both stores are very busy places, buzzing with people who care about good food, good service, and working together to make a positive difference in the community. I love being here, and have been warmly welcomed by the store’s staff, members, and shoppers. This sort of cooperative community is exactly what I’ve been looking for! It’s what brought me to the Co-op.
I’m originally from Suffolk, a small, coastal city in southeastern Virginia, not far from the ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. I have a grown son, who is the light of my life, and a wonderful fiancée, Stephannie Marie Brady, of Waynesville, NC. (I just proposed!) Like everyone, the person I am has been shaped by what I’ve experienced. I’m an easygoing, creative person. My outlook on life is defined by family, a strong work ethic, and finding meaning in things.
What are people surprised to learn about me? I have eclectic interests, for one thing. I write poetry, build custom cars, and love fishing, both freshwater and saltwater, a pastime I picked up growing up near the coast. I look forward to moving my boat to the Upper Valley soon. If you know of a good fishing spot (and let’s face it, everyone does!), let me know.
It’s important to me to make a contribution to the world around me, and to be part of something bigger than myself. That’s what brought me to the Co-op. Before coming here—with the exception of brief stints in Buffalo, New York, and rural Pennsylvania—I spent most of my career working in stores down south. My entire career has been in the grocery industry. It’s a career I love and the work is something I am very passionate about. What we provide is important and universal. As Ed Fox, our general manager, likes to say, “everybody’s gotta eat.”
I started in this business when I was 15. My first job was a bagger at a Food Lion in North Carolina. There I learned the value of hard work, serving people, and being part of a team.
Two years later, my life was enriched by the birth of my son. Fatherhood at a young age thrust me into a world of hard work and responsibility early, and I put everything I had into any opportunity that came my way.
At 17, my last year of high school, I became the overnight manager at Food Lion, working all night, then going to school during the day. While my friends were enjoying teenage parties and sports, I worked to support myself and my son.
Over the years I worked my way up to store manager, then district manager. In the years that followed my career would take me to Wild Oats, now owned by Whole Foods, and other organic markets. Early on, I embraced the value of natural and organic foods. I also managed large teams of people in multiple locations and in competitive markets. It’s a long way from my first job as a 15-year-old bagger, but the commitment to teamwork and serving people is the same.
A few years ago, I became intrigued by the idea of food cooperatives. I visited French Broad Food Co-op, a wonderful cooperative on a busy street in Asheville, NC. There I asked a lot of questions and learned about the cooperative model. I was impressed by the commitment to community involvement, especially. At a co-op, connecting with the community is more important than the bottom line. I believe if all stores focused on that concept, they could be much more successful as businesses and make the world a better place, too. Needless to say, when I was contacted through a search committee about the opening here at our Lebanon Co-op, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. Now, thankfully, here I am.
I wouldn’t want to do anything but work in the grocery business. I would be lost without it. The different vendors, the different people, the different cultures—you don’t see these things sitting behind a desk. If you’ve never been to our Lebanon store, I’d love for you to come by and see what makes us so special. If you’re a long-time shopper, member, and fan, I invite you to stop by and say hello and introduce yourself to me anytime. I look forward to serving you now and for many years to come.