Valerie’s Voice in La Ronge — congrats on a well-deserved retirement

Photo submitted by Valerie Barnes Connell Jordan La Ronge Marketplace Coop Margaret Floch

I have an odd relationship with the La Ronge Marketplace Coop in that I moved to La Ronge and started to work at the La Ronge Northerner the day this beautiful new store opened.
I was not at the opening as that happened in the morning and I started to work at noon. But I was in the store on the opening day and applying for my membership either that day or very soon after the opening.
Margaret Floch was the manager of the store. I remember I heard lots of comments about all the work Margaret did to get the new store and I was amazed that day to go in and find this beautiful large Coop store in this town.
Over the years, the Coop has been an important part of my life. I have an appreciation for the cooperative movement, which really had its birthplace in Saskatchewan. It is a celebrated part of the history and makeup of Saskatchewan. The communities I’ve lived in prior to moving to Saskatchewan have had Coops. The success of communities often depend on the coop.
I previously lived for many years in a small hamlet and there was a Coop, which provided so many resources for the community and probably ensured its survival.
Margaret is retiring, I believe this week, as I write this column. I want to thank her, celebrate the contribution she has made to the La Ronge Marketplace Coop, and to the La Ronge, Air Ronge and Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) communities.
Over the years when I went to the Coop, Margaret seemed to be always there. Sometimes I got a glimpse of her working in her office. At other times she was out on the floor helping or sorting out something with staff members or customers.
I know, although I was evacuated during the wildfire season in 2015, Margaret set up her camper trailer in the Coop parking lot and proceeded to keep the store operational for those left in various capacities to fight the wildfires threatening our communities as they kept our homes and communities safe.
I thought that was just over the top in dedication and resourcefulness, among other things.
She has led the Coop through more than two years of Pandemic, and we have moved to curbside. We miss going to the Coop, which we did probably every day in the past.
But, we have a new reality. We, my husband and I, are older, so we don’t go into public spaces so much. We still do curbside at the Coop.
Recently, on a cold, stormy, snowy day, we were sitting at the curbside parking place, when we saw Margaret come out of the store, organize some signs in different places and collect shopping carts from around the parking lot and push them into the store.
And we remarked about her energy, commitment to the store, “She’s everywhere,” we said.
It has never occurred to me to think about our Coop without Margaret at the helm.
So, it was with great surprise, and evoked a multitude of other feelings, when I read on Facebook that Margaret is retiring after 28 years in La Ronge and several years in other communities before coming here.
If ever I’ve met someone who deserves a wonderful, healthy and happy retirement, it’s Margaret Floch.
Thank you, Margaret for your commitment, hard work, resourcefulness, and much more.
A very HAPPY RETIREMENT, Margaret Floch!!!