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Our Co-op Keeps Growing Since 1979
Natural Harvest Food Co-op started out as a small buying club in June of 1976. A small group of people untied because they wanted access to a larger variety of nutritious whole foods at more reasonable prices. Eventually, this buying club grew to a point where their method of purchasing and distributing products became difficult to manage so they decided to further co-operate by starting a retail store. Natural Harvest Food Co-op opened for business in December 1979.
Our original storefront, located at 119 Chestnut Street, had a mere 600 square feet of retail space. It started with just a few bulk bins, some spices, and an upright freezer…then grew into a thriving little Food Co-op. By 1991 it became apparent that expansion was in order; ten consecutive years of double-digit sales growth and the need for a better operating space fueled a big dream. Business and architectural plans were developed and through creative financing, construction of our log building on Bailey Lake started in 1995. With many staff and volunteer hours, lots of hard work, in-kind donations from vendors and a “buy-a-log program” the dream became a reality.
We have been growing in sales and ownership every year since! Sales approached $2 million at the end of 2013 and in 2014 we were granted membership into the National Co+op Grocers (NCG). NCG is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops that represents 145 food co-ops operating over 200 stores in the US. NCG helps unify natural food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere.
Since then our sales kept improving! With support from our amazing owners and staff, our Co-op went through its second expansion and moved into a brand new store on the shores of Silver Lake in April of 2017. The new eco-friendly building has allowed us to serve our customers and community better than ever! We now have a deli with a daily hot bar and salad bar, a community room to offer educational classes and host community groups, as well as more retail space to offer a wider variety of products.
We look forward to more growth in ownership and sales to be able to support our Ends:
- Greater Sense of Community
- Community members are better informed about cooperative principles and personal and environmental health
- People in our area have access to healthy products
- A vibrant local food economy.
What is a Co-op?
Orientation to Food Co-ops:
Cooperatively-owned businesses are an alternative economic model.
Cooperatives are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their owners according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In co-ops, owners pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone.
Most simply put, a cooperative is a business voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and operated for the benefit of its owners.
Statement of Cooperative Identity
The International Cooperative Alliance, established in 1895, is considered to be the final authority for defining cooperatives and the principles by which they operate. The organization has made three formal statements of cooperative principles over the past 100 years in an effort to keep them relevant to the contemporary world. At its 100th anniversary meeting in September 1995 in Manchester, England, the Alliance adopted the following Statement of Cooperative Identity:
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
Click below to learn more about the Cooperative Way of Doing Business