Laura's Food Co-op Roadtrip

Laura's Food Co-op Roadtrip
At the beginning of this month, I took a road trip down to Asheville, NC and then up to Madison, WI. Along the way, I made it a point to stop at several different food co-ops. This is one of my favorite things to do in a new town or city- find the food co-op and get inspiration for our own! Here are a few highlights from the trip:
Mariposa Food Co-op
West Philadelphia, PA, est. 1971
Mariposa is one of the few examples of a hybrid food co-op, with a model similar to our own. They are a consumer- and worker-owned food co-op. "Our primary activity is running a food co-op owned by those who shop there, who actively participate in its governance and operations on an egalitarian consensus-seeking basis". This co-op recently expanded into a space 5 times the size of their old space, and had a great selection of products across the board. I liked this illustration of reusable container prices:
French Broad Food Co-op
Asheville, NC, est. 1975
This was a great co-op in downtown Asheville with an awesome selection of products across the board, but the best part of this co-op, as far as I'm concerned, was its massive bulk section! The entire back room of the co-op is dedicated to bulk goods, and you can find anything there. The wall of herbs was staggering, and there was a selection of herbalism books for shoppers to use to learn more about any herbs available to them, which is a great resource!
People's Food Co-op
Ann Arbor, Michigan, est. 1971
In the heart of Kerrytown in Ann Arbor is a great, bustling food co-op with an awesome cafe- Cafe Verde. You can really feel the sense of community in this co-op, with friends meeting up for coffee before doing a bit of grocery shopping. The staff was very friendly, and it was great to see the local products from the area highlighted with information about the producers. Members of the co-op also received 10% off all purchases at the book shop that's next door- what a great idea!
Regent Market Co-op
Madison, WI, est. 1998
Regent Market Co-op is a great, community-owned grocery store with a selection of products ranging from conventional to organic and fair-trade. The store opened in the 1920s as a sole-proprietorship, but was incorporated as a co-op in 1998. They are in the process of expanding their store, which is exciting! We had a good conversation about a policy that's in place at their co-op and several others, which is that non-owners are charged an additional 10% on their purchase. If you are a member of any other co-op, this 10% surcharge can be waived if you show your membership card. To me, this seems like it would alienate shoppers who aren't owners more than it would encourage them to become owners. They've heard a lot of feedback along these lines, and many would like to change the policy, but the board has yet to approve the change. 
Do you have a favorite food co-op that you've visited? The next time you're traveling, see what food co-ops you can stop into. Send us a picture and let us know what you liked about the co-op, and we'll put it in our newsletter!
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published this page in The Blog 2015-11-04 19:12:16 -0500
@AmherstCommCoop tweeted this page. 2015-11-04 19:11:28 -0500
Amherst Food Co-op
A start-up worker- and consumer-owned food co-op in Amherst, MA