Bulk Shopping Sale

Everything in our bulk aisle–food, coffee, soap, etc.–will be 25% on October 14-15, 2017! Your co-op wants to expose more shoppers to the savings, convenience and variety that bulk shopping has to offer, in conjunction with National Bulk Foods Week (October 14-20).

Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center studied the benefits of buying natural and organic food in bulk. Researchers found the foods on average cost 89% less than packaged goods. They also found bulk foods reduce packaging going into landfills and the ability to purchase from the bins just the quantity needed, cuts down on food waste.

As a retailer we want to do our part by providing you with quality bulk items everyday and offering you this great weekend deal so you can save green while going green with zero waste shopping!

Together We Grow Update

By General Manager Matt Stanley

We’re embarking on a truly grassroots effort to build co-op equity so we can make our dream store a reality and keep as much of the financing for the project as local as possible. Now, three weeks into our owner investment campaign Together We Grow we’re almost halfway to raising enough investments to build you a bigger store!

The goal of raising at least $1.5 million in owner investments will support our much-needed expansion. Now, Astoria Co-op Grocery is asking you, if you haven’t yet invested, to step up and bring the campaign the rest of the way home by October 31st. This is a rare opportunity to see your dollars at work growing a local business that brings tremendous benefit to our community.

We’ve revealed the exterior plans for the new store. We are digging into the design of the interior. Visual images make the new store tangible. Picture yourself choosing a parking space out of the 50 available!

Together We Grow is a capital campaign based on the offering of preferred shares to Astoria Co-op owners that are Oregon residents. Preferred shares, although not a term most of us are familiar with, are quite straight forward.

First, each co-op owner invests in their common share with the co-op. Most of us are paying off the $200 common share in $25 increments. This equity has and will continue to be instrumental in growing our business and making all the things that make the co-op special accessible to more and more community members. Common shares are non-interest bearing and have no par value.

The Co-op’s Series A Preferred Shares are an opportunity for co-op owners to invest in our expansion project and earn an annual dividend. Each preferred share has a par value of $100 and the Co-op is issuing (through a registration with the State of Oregon) 25,000 preferred shares.

The minimum investment involves the purchase of 25 shares, or $2,500. These owners will receive an annual dividend of 3%. Owners who purchase 100 or more shares ($10,000 or more) will receive an annual dividend of 4%.

That’s the nuts and bolts of how this works. Co-op owners receive a reasonable return and the co-op strengthens its balance sheet enough to make the project feasible. Our minimum goal to move the project forward is $1.5 million, or the sale of 15,000 shares. But we’ll need your help to make it happen.

Why sell all the shares? Because it means the co-op can rely less on external financing to complete the project. More dollars stay local. More local co-op owners get to shop and benefit from the very thing that they invested in. We don’t get many opportunities to put our money to work right in our very own community. This is your chance. I am investing. Others in my extended family are investing. Many other owners have already committed their investments. Join us in our cooperative effort to expand this community treasure!

Contact me at matt@astoria.coop or on my cell at 503-791-5692. Together we can hit our goal and move forward to growing a bigger and better store together!

Hurricane Harvey Relief

Iowa City, IA – In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction in communities throughout Texas and Louisiana, National Co+op Grocers (NCG) joins co-ops and other businesses nationwide in providing contributions to assist in relief and recovery efforts.

On behalf of its member co-ops, NCG is donating a truckload of essential supplies from UNFI (United Natural Foods) to the Houston Food Bank, Houston’s largest food donation foundation.

In addition, NCG has chosen an organization serving at-risk women and children in Beaumont, Texas, which is among the hardest hit communities, as the recipient of its annual holiday donation on co-ops’ behalf. “This is in recognition that those with the least in times of crisis are not just dealing with a lost way of life, they are often fighting for their lives,” said Robynn Shrader, Chief Executive Officer, NCG.

“As cooperators, we have chosen to use our collective strength to assist those affected by the storm,” Shrader added. “We extend our deepest sympathy to those affected by this devastation.”

The following co-ops, and a growing number of NCG co-ops nationwide, have pledged to continue offering support to impacted communities in the months to come by collecting cash donations:

  • Hunger Mountain Co-op (Montpelier, VT)
  • Oryana Community Co-op (Traverse City, MI)
  • Outpost Natural Foods Co-op (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Wheatsfield Cooperative (Ames, IA)
  • Wheatsville Co-op (Austin, TX)

Donations will be earmarked for organizations such as Feeding Texas and the Cooperative Development Fund, which assists hurricane damaged cooperative businesses of all kinds rebuild and resume operations through its Disaster Recovery Fund.

As the changing climate continues to present us with unprecedented weather events that are taking a cumulative toll on entire regions, cities and human lives, NCG stands firm in its commitment to prioritize efforts to help reverse global warming through innovative projects like the Climate Collaborative and Co+op Forest.

About NCG

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify 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. Our 146 member and associate co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of over $2.1 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

New Store Rendering

Here’s a conceptual rendering of our new store at 23rd and Marine Drive in Astoria’s Millpond; a location that’s been secured with a lease which includes construction of a new store. The new building will be about 12,000 square feet; four times the size of the current store. Read more about the site here.

Owner Investment Campaign

Our grassroots effort to make a bigger store a reality has sprouted! Our business, a consumer-owned cooperative, has launched an owner investment campaign called “Together We Grow”, and we’ve already raised $430,000!

Preferred shares are an issuance of stock for Oregon residents who are Co-op owners. The shares are available starting at a minimum investment of $2,500. The Co-op is issuing 25,000 shares each with a value of $100 and is selling them to raise equity for the expansion. The annual dividend is 3% and for those who invest $10,000 or more the dividend is 4%.

The Co-op’s portion of the project to build a new store at 23rd and Marine drive in Astoria, is about $3.8 million with a minimum of $1.5 million coming from owner investments. Co-op General Manager Matt Stanley feels the Co-op can beat its minimum goal of $1.5 million and is aiming to sell as many of the shares as possible, totaling $2.5 million.

“The more folks invest the less the Co-op needs to go to traditional financing, so more dollars stay local,” Stanley said.

The Co-op sources many goods from local producers and looks forward to growing the marketplace for local food. For every dollar that’s spent at the Co-op, 52¢ goes back into the local economy, according to a report by National Co-op Grocers.

“I think of investing in the Co-op as truly investing in our community. You’re investing in me as a farmer and you’re investing in my business too. You’re investing in all these small local food producers. For us, that’s so meaningful,” Teresa Retzlaff of 46 North Farm said.

The Co-op has been in the community for 43 years with a proven track record including double digit growth in the last five years and growing owners, recently reaching 4,000. This success has led to the Co-op needing more space and amenities. The new store will have a much-needed loading dock, more parking, a larger deli, fresh meat/seafood counter, and wider selection of organic and local produce.

Expansion and investment information is available at www.astoria.coop or stopping by the store.

Annual Meeting

UPDATE: Our event has reached maximum capacity, a record turnout by far! We knew this was going to be an exciting meeting, and we wanted to make sure we had an accurate count to plan appropriately (so required RSVP’s). Everything we share at the meeting will be promptly available on our web page for all owners to see. Please get in touch with our general manager Matt if you have any questions or concerns: matt@astoria.coop.

Join fellow Co-op owners at the Red Building Loft in Astoria for a delicious meal, great music, and lots of information about our expansion. The meeting is on Sunday September 17 at 5 p.m. and includes:

  • Dinner made with local ingredients by Chef Andrew Catalano
  • Wine tasting with Galaxy Wine
  • Live music by the Columbians (with Spud Siegel)
  • Unveiling of our new store design
  • Launch of our expansion capital campaign
  • Brief annual report from our general manager
  • Board election
  • Raffles and more

The event is free, but please RSVP on our Eventbrite page, so we know how much food to make.

Parade Route and the Co-op

Folks, expect vehicle access to the store to be closed during the Regatta parade on Saturday August 12. Exchange Street in front of the co-op will be closed around 10:30 and will re-open after the parade gets over (which may be around 1-2 p.m.).

More from Astoria 911 Dispatch:

Astoria Regatta Grand Land Parade / Expect traffic disruptions

The Astoria Police Department is issuing a reminder that the Astoria Regatta Association Grand Land Parade begins at 12:00 P.M. on Saturday August 12th 2017.  Traffic will be disrupted through the downtown core beginning at about 8:00 A.M.

At 8:30 A.M. Exchange Street will be closed between 23rd and 16th.  The Hospital, its urgent care and the Park Medical Building will be accessible from Marine Drive at 20th, 21st, and 23rd.

Exchange and Duane between 17th and 9th will have no on street parking on Saturday until the parade ends.  The no parking areas will be signed and any vehicle parked at those locations will be removed by a tow truck.  The owner will be responsible for the tow fees.

At about 10:30 a.m. all streets that travel north or south (the number streets) will be closed between Commercial Street and Franklin Street between 17th and 8th. These traffic disruptions will last until the parade had ended and the street has been swept.

8th street will remain open during the entire event. 16th street will remain open until 11:30 A.M.

Highway 30 will remain open but may experience delays due to pedestrian traffic and floats moving to the disband area. Traffic needing to get to or from the South slope of Astoria should use unaffected, alternate routes.

Deputy Chief Eric Halverson said, “We appreciate the community’s patience in dealing with the traffic disruptions that occur during the parade each year. Our goal is to limit the disruptions for the motoring public, while providing a safe route for people to view the procession.”

Founding Mamas & Papas

Left to Right: Randy Puseman, McLaren Innes, Stewart Bell, Josie Peper, Richard Hurley, Carol Newman, John Folk & Carol Folk

The concept which grew into our present Co-op came from the Rainbow Family Gathering in 1972. A small group of people in Astoria formed a buying club, and collectively purchased foods in bulk. Our founders raised money by having rummage sales, provided free labor, and opened the Co-op’s first storefront in 1974. It was a small 650 square foot space near the Columbian Cafe. It was called the “Community Store” and its slogan was “food for people, not for profit.”

Back then there were few grocery shopping choices in our coastal region. It was the beginning of a movement toward bulk foods to keep away from packaging. There was less emphasis on organic; the focus was on simple, whole foods. There were bulk grains and beans, spices, cheese (cut by volunteers), raw milk in glass bottles, tofu and miso.

“We had a holistic approach to life and the Co-op was in large part what enabled us to live that lifestyle in Astoria,” said Carol Folk, one of the Co-op’s first board members.

Folk remembers weekly board meetings at people’s houses with “endless discussions” about the details of the bylaws. Forming the Co-op was a painstaking process, and there were many clashes throughout its history, but it was worth it, as its value reigned even greater than the unique food offerings; it was how locals in a rural community connected.

“The food brought us together but it was a platform for sharing a common view about life and politics, our culture and our world views,” Folk said.

At first there were no distributors. Volunteers drove to Portland to pick up supplies. Everything was done by volunteers; even the store’s first manager didn’t receive a paycheck. Josie Peper was the first elected non-paid manager. She coordinated the volunteer workforce.

“The idea of hiring somebody to do carpentry or plumbing: no, we put it out there to the members to find out who could do it,” Peper said.

She held benefits to offset the store’s operating expenses including monthly square dances and potluck dinners with live music at the Netel Grange. Peper eventually took a hiatus from the Co-op to continue her education and others stepped in to run the store.

Some consequences of the Co-op relying only on volunteers started showing. The store was closed often and the shelves were randomly stocked. Throughout its history, the Co-op experimented with several management structures. The store began to function well again when the board hired its first paid manager, Stewart Bell, who earned 75-cents an hour in food credit. Bell recalls that the cost of living then was less, which made this possible.

The Co-op moved to a daily manager structure in which there was a different person each day overseeing the store. Carol Newman was one of them. She says she did it out of goodwill because she wanted to see the Co-op happen.

“Everyone got 75-cents an hour of food credit and we were so democratic until somebody brought up, some of the people shopping in the store were earning 100 bucks an hour; lawyers, doctors, teachers, business people, whatever. There was talk of exploiting ourselves,” Newman said.

Richard Hurley, a former Co-op manager helped form Community Workers Incorporated, a worker’s collective which contracted with the Co-op to operate the store and for the first time, workers started getting paid above minimum wage.

“We definitely felt we were part of a larger movement. We were lighting little candles that would get brighter and spread toward a whole different way of the economy being run. I was enamored with the economic structure hence the worker’s collective because there was always controversy over exploitation of workers,” Hurley said.

The Co-op officially became a consumer-owned cooperative, filing with the state of Oregon in 2004. Before that it was technically a non-profit, but everyone referred to it as a co-op.

When asked what their hopes are for the Co-op as it matures, some founders offer critique including the store carries too much packaged food, and it’s lost the participatory vibe that the Community Store once had. But Bell points out how the changes have been good, and there seems to be agreement among the founders.

“There is a high priority that the workers are paid well. What we got paid was a joke… having a store which can employ people and pay them a decent wage is a wonderful thing,” Bell said.

Nowadays our co-op uses a livable wage model. Starting pay is $11.50 per hour and the average wage is nearly $17 per hour plus benefits. With competitors now offering organic food, this would not be possible without a concerted effort to grow sales by broadening our shopper base and evolving to meet the needs of today’s ownership.

The opportunities our Co-op has to provide good jobs, great food for the community, and a market for local farmers and producers is thanks to our founding mamas and papas for creating and nurturing the Co-op. This article only scratches the surface as there are so many people who contributed to the Co-op’s founding in both big and little ways throughout our 43-year history. It seems more important than ever to reexamine our roots and give credit where it’s due as we plan a future expansion.


We’re sponsoring a movie!

Astoria Parks Foundation Parks After Dark

Join the Astoria Parks Foundation and sponsor Astoria Co-op for the kick-off of the Parks After Dark summer movie series to raise money for Astoria Parks and Recreation Scholarships.

Saturday, June 24th we will be showing the 80’s classic Top Gun.  Movie will begin at dusk at McClure Park, located at 8th and Grand Avenue. Food and beverages (including Co-op salad) available for purchase.

Community Response

We’re getting such a positive response following our big announcement! Securing a location for the new store was a big step. Since then we’ve met with Co-op owners and the people who live near our future site.

On June 8 we hosted a Co-op Conversation at Shively Hall. Co-op General Manager Matt Stanley, along with several members of our Board of Directors, shared information, answered questions, and heard suggestions.

The meeting started off with background on the project. The Co-op’s Board adopted a strategic plan three years ago which includes an expanded store. Through the planning process the Board solicited feedback and heard loud and clear the community’s desire for a bigger store offering more of what our shoppers love. Further research including a market study and consulting with our co-op grocery peers confirmed this concept viable.

The Board set criteria for a new store site. The essential elements included a space in Astoria large enough for an approximate 10,000 square foot store with plenty of space for parking and ease of access. Desires included river views, adjacent to the Riverwalk, pedestrian access, close to Columbia Memorial Hospital, and space to customize a store from the ground up.

Then came two years of searching for a site which included talking to property owners, and thoroughly investigating everything in Astoria that met our criteria. The board narrowed locations down to a handful and visited each place to get a feel for them. Finally, the Co-op signed a lease which includes construction of a new store at 23rd and Marine Drive in the Millpond development at the end of May.

Several questions and ideas came up at our Shively meeting such as who will be responsible for building the store, how big it will be, whether housing could be added above, traffic concerns, and the desire for owners to be involved. The property owner will construct an approximate 11,000 square foot building and will be conducting a traffic study with Oregon Department of Transportation to address any necessary mitigation. Housing is not being considered as there is no interest from the developer due to costs and height limitation in the area. Co-op owners can get involved by staying informed, showing support during the city land use approvals process, and helping with our capital campaign.

On June 17 we met some of our new neighbors at the Millpond homeowner’s annual meeting.

Many residents said they felt really positive about our proposal. Questions and concerns related to aesthetics, landscaping, and delivery-truck times.

Millpond was a former plywood mill that underwent transformation from polluted site to a clean, model community with senior housing, low income housing, townhouses, and single family homes. We believe the commercial property where we will build the new store will fulfill the original intent of this mixed used development and be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood and our entire coastal community.

At this time there are so many variables with planning the store and financing that we can’t say when the new store would open. It is safe to say though that we are working diligently toward this goal every day. Co-op staff members are extremely excited about the additional space, more efficient layout, and break room. It will make it that much easier to serve you even better with more healthy fresh food, local products, and plenty of space to shop, park and dine. Thanks so much to everyone in the community who has asked good questions and weighed-in with positivity. Feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions, concerns and/or ideas.

General Manager Matt Stanley can be reached at (503) 325-0027 or matt@astoria.coop.