About Us: History
Cultivating community for over 30 years!
The foundation of our co-op is rooted in this community. In 1980, we began as a network of neighborhood buying clubs. We used a 3/4-ton flatbed truck to drive to Madison, Wisconsin to pick up the groceries directly from the distributor. The trip was long and ended with delivering the orders to various people, who would then act as distributors for their neighbor.
In 1985 we became an actual store front, taking the place of Mr. Naturals, which was the privately owned natural foods store in the area at the time, located at 102 East Jackson.
By 1997, we were a growing not-for-profit and sold a wide variety of natural and organic foods to the community, but we were bursting at the seams! So, we moved one door down to 104 East Jackson. This gave us the space and inspiration to redesign the store in 2000.
In 2003 we fulfilled our mission to become a true cooperative by converting to a cooperative corporation in the state of Illinois. This has been a long coming part of our evolution, aligning us with the principles that our name implies. But, in 2005, we were bursting at the seams yet again!
We began making plans to move to a new 12,000 square foot space in Murdale Shopping Center. We spent the next several months raising money from our ownership ($345,000) and securing financing to help fund the 1.5 million dollar store. In this new dream store, we were able to become a full-service grocery and cafe, operate a teaching kitchen for cooking classes and events and we continue to specialize in products that are organic, locally produced or fairly traded.
Our first store at 102 East Jackson.
Jane Rhea, longtime Co-op manager, with folks helping out at the store.
Our second location at 104 East Jackson, next door to the old store.
The office at 104 East Jackson. It was pretty tight, by the time we moved to our current location there were multiple people to a desk, one desktop copier/printer and two computers everyone shared.
Aur Beck helping out at 104 East Jackson before our remodel, which included a new kitchen for the deli.
Kris Jones, then kitchen manager, Lisa Smith, brand development manager and Dave Egizio making burgers for Organic Harvest Picnic 2005 in the remodeled Jackson Street kitchen.
1815 West Main Street, Carbondale, our current location, upon opening.
Produce department on opening day.
View of the store from the deli on opening day.
A number of local bands played at our grand opening. Pictured here Josh Plemon and the Lonesome Drifters.
Kathleen Baer giving a piece of cake to a customer on our one year anniversary.
For our first anniversary we raffled off a Puffin, generously donated by Barbara's Bakery and our supplier. Puffin was in the backstock area for weeks before the anniversary event. It was hard for the staff to let their mascot go. Everyone wanted to keep Puffin.
Halloween display 2006.
Kathleen and her family, Halloween 2006.
Holiday Cheese Events were always fun!