We turned off highway 101 and onto Rhododendron Drive. Right at the turn was a tiny store with a sign on the window, Real Food Co-op. I collect Co-ops like some people collect recipes or old cars. We didn’t have time to stop as we were overdue to meet my brother and his wife at their new Florence home. Sometime during the evening I asked them if they had visited the co-op. My sister-in-law said “yes, but they don’t have anything on the shelves. I think mostly what they have is different kinds of handmade soap.”
This sounded sad to me and I debated if I even wanted to go see a grocery co-op with only soap on the shelves. A couple days later we did go. The general manager was standing at the counter with a beautiful welcoming smile on her face. I felt instantly at home and never did see the soap. Instead there was a row of bulk basics, grains, beans, flours, etc…also a row of liquid bulk foods, oils, vinegars, and more. I found my favorite brand of canned salsas, enchilada sauces, and pickles from a Eugene company who only uses locally grown certified organic ingredients. The cold case contained all the dairy products that I buy as staples and there was a small freezer case with an assortment of frozen locally raised meats. The back of the store was given over to a three compartment sink and counter for washing and prepping produce. The produce selection was limited but looked very good. Jen Nelson the manager told me that a fresh shipment was due in that very afternoon from a Eugene distributor who also supplies Ashland Food Co-op. They deliver to this little coastal co-op twice a week.
To my brother and sister-in-law I said, “This is how it all starts, small and with a great deal of integrity. Jen told me the co-op has been here for four years and is in the black with 200 owners. It will continue to grow and serve its community. People say shop the perimeter of a grocery store, not the middle. This little co-op only has a perimeter, that’s why it may feel to you like there’s nothing on the shelves. If I lived in Florence I would shop here because everything I need to make quality meals is on these shelves.”
More Co-op News
By Annie Hoy, Retiring Marketing Manager
Since I was born and raised in far West Texas, I cannot help but use some imagery from what is so familiar to me.
By Emile Amarotico, General Manager and Ed Claassen, Board President
Our staff loves to head outside and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon outdoors. Here's a few of their favorite trails and the Co-op snacks they like to take with them.
By Stephanie Koerella, Education Coordinator
Reducing our waste has continued to be of greater concern for Rogue Valley residents, especially since January, when options for recycling became even more limited. While the Ashland Food Co-op is ramping up our efforts to reduce waste as a business, there is a lot that our community can do at home to help the cause.
By Emile Amarotico
In celebration of Sustainability Month in April, we asked our Sustainability Committee to share their favorite eco-friendly product.
We’ve teamed up with Rogue Valley Farm to School to offer three different camps this summer. Each week campers will dive into food production, preparation and exploration, with a mix of farm and kitchen experiences that delight the senses and inspire the soul. Join Rogue Valley Farm to School staff as they cultivate the ability to grow and cook delicious, healthy, seasonal meals. Monday - Wednesday at the Co-op Community Classroom, Thursday & Friday at the Farm at SOU.
By Ed Claassen, Board President
Your Board and Management Team invested a significant amount of time in 2014 developing a set of strategic initiatives that we believe are vital in shaping the future of our business and furthering our mission. We formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee consisting of 3 Board members and 3 Management Team members to guide the implementation of these initiatives.
To further our sustainability efforts and to serve you better, we began offering Electronic Owner Coupons in January 2017 at the register.
No more forgetting to bring your owner coupons. No more waiting for your newsletter to arrive. Cashiers simply ask if you want to use your owner coupons when you check out.
As we enter our second year of Electronic Coupons we wanted to share a couple of friendly reminders and the 2018 month by month schedule.
Looking to stretch your grocery budget? So are we! We've lowered the price on over three hundred items to create a set of high integrity staples for every shopper. Welcome to Co+op Basics.
Co+op Basics includes over 300 pantry and household staples. From beef to milk to cereal, we’ve lowered the margin and price on all those items to make organic, healthy food accessible to every shopper.
The funding cycle for the 2018 Co-op Community Grants for nonprofit organizations is now open.
Every spring, for more than 20 years, we’ve been donating to area nonprofits through our Community Grant program. We are committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities and this program helps us fulfill that commitment by supporting the amazing work of local nonprofits. The Community Grant program is also the highlight of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community, and is something we take to heart.
By Emile Amarotico
As we commence our lap around the sun in 2018, I wish to recognize the longstanding contributions of an amazing group of professionals. We are blessed with the dedication of eleven department managers expertly coordinating the daily flow of people, products and services that breath life into our Co-op!
Lynne (35+ years’ tenure) our Grocery Manager oversees keeping the aisles abundant with shelf stable products and coolers full of fresh perishables.
By Gwyneth Bowman, Vice President
After serving on the AFC Board for fourteen years my passion for the Co-op model has strengthened my commitment to the Cooperative Principles and Values. Of special importance is how we work together as a governing body with one voice. We are the ultimate decision-makers of our Co-op and hold a trusteeship for the benefit of our owners and community.
Like it or not, the cool weather has arrived. Whether you are heading out for a hike or enjoying a good book by the fire, the Co-op Deli has what you need to fuel your favorite fall activity. Stay warm with these comfort food recommendations from the Co-op Deli.
By Emile Amarotico
A recent visitor commented that our parking is totally inadequate to our business volume. What’s true is that we cannot create more parking due to space and municipal code constraints. Thus, the value of each available space is increasing over time. Assuming only half of Co-op shoppers use automobile parking, each space supports at least $200,000 in annual sales.