The Good Food Store

by Jason Codner, Silverton Food Co-op Council Member

I am an owner of another food co-op. This may sound like a confession, but I promise you it’s not. When I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico 16 years ago, I came across a grocery store in a strip mall parking lot on Central Ave. The store had a very welcoming and warm vibe and was full of good food. You know, the kind of good food that after you eat it, your soul feels as satisfied as your stomach. I found myself stopping by quite often when I was out and about. I’d drool over the amazing deli counter, browse the veggies I could recognize and the ones I couldn’t, and look at the pictures of all the local farms and ranches supported by the store. I even came to enjoy the frequent chats with the friendly staff. After many visits and many conversations at the checkout stand, I finally took the plunge and bought a share in La Montañita. I had very little in the way of money back then, but I knew I would see a return in my investment. I never came to regret the money I spent, nor did I feel the urge to ask for it back when I moved away.

Fast forward to 2014. I had been living in Silverton for six years when I heard that a group of people was exploring the idea of opening a food co-op in Silverton. I immediately thought back to my co-op in Albuquerque and the feeling I had whenever I walked in the doors. I wanted that same feeling here. Silverton is well suited for a food co-op for many reasons. We have an abundance of local farms, numerous small-scale producers, and strong civic pride and community involvement. So, I accepted the invitation to sit around a dining room table with some folks who shared the same beliefs and vision I did for starting a food co-op in our community.

But, can a small town like Silverton really support a food co-op and third grocery store? Since my experience with food co-ops were always in larger cities, I wanted to see if there were any cities in the country of similar population to Silverton that have successfully supported a food co-op. To my surprise and delight, I found several right here in the Pacific Northwest, such as Astoria, Baker City, Port Townsend, and Ashland, which all have very successful and amazing food co-ops. Some of these co-ops have half as many owners as there are people living in the city. These co-ops are not only surviving in a highly competitive economic environment, they are thriving. Take the Port Townsend Food Co-op in Port Townsend, Washington. With a population of 9,210, the co-op has 5,859 active members and sold $1.425,385 of locally grown and produced items in 2014. Just think about what $1.4 million dollars could do to support Silverton’s hard working farmers and producers.

So, the next time you find yourself in Portland, Astoria, Ashland, Baker City, Medford, Port Townsend or Corvallis, stop into the local co-op and get a feel for what the store brings to the community. You can look at the products on the shelves and know what the owners of that store value. Let’s bring our values to life in Silverton by opening our own food co-op.

To become a Silverton Food Co-op owner, click HERE.