Quick Expansion Update

We are basking in the support our owners have shown by investing $1.5 million dollars in just eight weeks. Planning and financing work continues behind the scenes and we’re moving full-steam ahead on building a bigger store.

One big step that’s happened is submission of a land use application to the City of Astoria. Our expansion is on the planning commission’s agenda for January 23 at 6:30 p.m. We are hoping many of you will attend the meeting to voice your support for our project (more details to come).

The big question everyone is asking is when construction will begin. If all stays on track, we are hoping as early as late spring or summer.

Stay tuned for updates.

Josephson’s Smokehouse

Local Producer Profile

By Emily Vollmer
Photos by: Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography

A gentle billow of smoke, sweet with the rich aroma of salmon, escapes the smokehouse door as we peek inside. A century ago, in 1917, Mike Josephson’s grandfather, Anton Josephson, tried his hand at smoking fish fresh from the docks. Starting in 1920, Josephson’s Smokehouse opened at the same storefront you can find it in today, just past downtown Astoria heading westbound on Marine Drive.

In the cold case at the Astoria Cooperative Grocery you can also find Josephson’s smoked salmon and salmon jerky, custom packed for the Co-op.

Cold-smoked is the traditional Scandinavian style originally used by the Josephson family. The salmon is cured in salt, then rinsed, and smoked. The relatively cool temperatures used (90 degrees Fahrenheit or less) means that the fish is preserved but maintains a delicate silky texture that can be sliced, whereas hot-smoked fish is cooked to a firm texture that can be flaked into pieces. Smoked salmon retains the bright color of the wild fish due to the smoking process itself. The flavor also becomes richer, more complex.

Traditional meets modern at Josephson’s Smokehouse. In the back of the building they still have a room set up to cold smoke large sides of Chinook salmon, hanging from individual stainless steel hooks, for 5 days, in the smoldering smoke of Alder logs (a tree still found in abundance on the North Oregon coast). For Mike’s dad and grandfather, “This was the only way they ever smoked fish, and I did it for a lot of years, too.” Mike says, adding, “My friends used to joke because we’d be out at a dance and I’d say, ‘well, we got to go to the smokehouse and check on the fire.’ So, they’d come back, and they were all familiar with the process.”

Nowadays, Josephson’s primarily uses a modern smoker that’s run by a computer using specialized software to control and monitor the process, along with precisely controlled smoke generators stoked with a blend of Alder wood chips. Mike says the current preference people have is for what they produce in the modern smoker. The traditional method creates a heavier smoked skin; it’s drier, and somewhat reminiscent of a ham. Since there are some people who really love it, Josephson’s smokes about 3 batches a year of the traditional style.

If you stop by Josephson’s Smokehouse you’ll most likely meet Ashley Moore at the front counter. Astoria born and raised, she’s worked at Josephson’s for 10 years now, starting when she was just 17. Ashley says she’s never caught a fish before, with the caveat that she did proudly reel in some seaweed at the age of 7. She knows the Smokehouse well and can offer knowledgeable answers and delicious samples.

Mike’s father, Cecil Josephson, was a fisherman. In the main room there’s still the loft where the nets were stored, and in that room Mike says he vividly remembers his dad melting and attaching the metal lead line to the nets. The current entryway walls are decorated with old photographs, and what is now the storefront was the living room for Mike’s grandparents.

Mike started helping out at the Smokehouse at age 12, using a wire brush to clean the rust and fish scales off of what were then steel hooks used in the smoke room. Pointing to a heavy wheel-shaped contraption leaned up against the wall Mike explains that it was the hoist they used in the cannery that they cranked by hand, lifting tens of thousands of pounds of Columbia River Chinook from the boats.

Josephson’s produced just one product for 60 years, until after Mike took over the business from his parents in 1978. They’ve since diversified to create 7 flavors of salmon jerky, 23 types of canned fish, 18 types of hot smoked fish and shellfish, and 3 types of cold smoked salmon lox.  They operate an extensive mail-order business, shipping worldwide from their historic storefront on the bank of the Columbia River.

Holiday Turkey & Pies


Holiday turkeys and pies are now available at the store. This year we’ve got Diestel turkeys. They are raised under strict standards including a healthy environment, fresh mountain water, and clean air from the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Vegetarian feed never contains fillers and birds are never given growth stimulants or antibiotics. In addition to an organic option, we also have a limited number of local turkeys from Blackberry Bog Farm. The turkeys are first come, first served. They are frozen, so please allow adequate time for defrosting. Click here to learn more: from thawing times to roasting temperatures.

We’re thrilled this year to offer you holiday pies with clean ingredients and a great price, made by an Oregon company. Willamette Valley Pie Company’s mission is to deliver you the best from their land to your hands. Pie varieties we’ll carry (while supplies last) include: apple, cherry, pecan, pumpkin, and vegan pumpkin. Pies are made with non-GMO ingredients with no added preservatives or starches.

Co-op Reaches Expansion Investment Goal

The Co-op’s investment campaign “Together We Grow” has reached its goal, raising $1.5 million to build a bigger store. The Co-op launched the fundraising effort a month and a half ago at its annual meeting.

“We’re blown away by the Co-op support that we’ve seen. It’s a clear demonstration of the fact people want to see this new store happen—and as soon as possible—because we reached our goal on time,” General Manager Matt Stanley said.

Almost 200 locals invested. The preferred shares investment offering was available to Oregon residents who are owners of the Co-op, a consumer owned cooperative. A team of volunteers mailed letters and called potential investors. The Co-op also maintained regular communications about the campaign progress via email and social media.

“We think it’s important to put money toward things that will create a meaningful future for our children and the Co-op not only provides healthy food for them but also a community around food and we really want to be a part of that,” Investor Megan Oien said.

Even though the investment campaign is officially over, the Co-op has more shares available for those who still want to invest. The more money kept local, the less the Co-op will need additional bank financing to make the project happen.

The Co-op will now focus on completing the design, going through a land use approval process, and working to keep the project moving forward as fast as possible.

The Co-op plans to build a new store at 23rd and Marine Drive in Astoria that’s about four times bigger than the store’s current location at 14th and Exchange. Double-digit growth in the last five years has led the Co-op to seek more space. The new store will have a larger deli, fresh meat & seafood, a wider selection of organic and local produce, and more parking.

The Co-op, formerly known as the Community Store, has been in Astoria since 1974. The number of Co-op owners recently topped 4000. About 80% of the Co-op’s shoppers are owners, but it is not a requirement to shop. The Co-op welcomes all shoppers and is hoping to expand its shopper-base even more with the new store.

Need More Investors to Reach Goal

The Co-op’s investment campaign “Together We Grow” has raised $1.2 million as of Thursday October 26, a little more than a month since the fundraising launch. The Co-op’s goal is to raise $1.5 million by month’s-end to stay on track for building a new store.

The Co-op has a lease at 23rd and Marine Drive in Astoria which includes construction of a new 12,000 square-foot building, about four times the size of the current store at 14th and Exchange. The co-op seeks to keep as many dollars local as possible to pay for this expansion. As a consumer-owned cooperative, the Co-op is selling preferred shares—an issuance of stock—to its Oregon-resident owners, yielding up to a 4% annual dividend.

“This is such an amazing testament to one of the co-op principals; owner economic participation. The community is coming together to do something we couldn’t do as individuals. It feels really positive! We are going to reach our goal and put this money to work doing great things in the community,” Co-op General Manager Matt Stanley said.

The average investment has been about $10,000. Volunteers have been mailing letters and making phone calls to potential investors. The Co-op has also been contacting people about the opportunity via email and social media.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the range of investors we’ve seen, from Co-op founders to those who are totally new to the Co-op. They see this as a good opportunity not only in terms of the return but also investing in community,” Co-op Marketing Director Zetty Nemlowill said.

Double-digit growth in the last five years led the Co-op to seek more space and amenities including a dedicated receiving area and ample parking. The new store will have a larger deli, fresh meat & seafood counter, and wider selection of organic and local produce.

The Co-op, formerly known as the Community Store, has been in Astoria since 1974. The number of Co-op owners recently topped 4000. About 80% of the Co-op’s shoppers are owners, but it is not a requirement to shop. The Co-op welcomes all shoppers and is hoping to expand its shopper-base even more with the new store.

Expansion and investment information is available at www.astoria.coop, in the store, and by contacting our General Manager directly at 503-791-5692 or matt@astoria.coop.

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.