The Astoria Co-op, once a small esoteric storefront tucked away downtown, opened its new, much bigger store on the main drag. While it has a “Whole Foods” vibe, the co-op specializes in locally-sourced fare, and was funded by members who invested $2 million to get the new store off the ground. KMUN’s Joanne Rideout reports.
[Script below – scroll down to Listen…]
by Joanne Rideout
Inside the new market, dignitaries spoke to the crowd as part of the open ceremonies, including State Senator Betsy Johnson and Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones. Then coop manager Matt Stanley took the microphone.
Matt Stanley: “This is the culmination of five years of planning and hard work. It is a pinnacle moment in the history of our 36-year old business. It’s the coming to life of our five years strategic plan. To have a thriving local economy, a welcoming community store, a flourishing co-op culture, and individual and community health. We decided to put ourselves out there. Partially as a survival strategy in a very competitive environment. But more so, as a response to the overwhelming majority of people who told us that they wanted us to be bold and put forth what you’re going to discover today in this building.
A few moments later, the ribbon cutting.[Crowd noise, then] “One two three – Yay!…”Enjoy!”
As the new store’s first customers roamed the store, local band the Brownsmead Flats walked the aisles too, playing a few tunes:[Flats instrumental music]
As Stanley stood surrounded by happy customers, I asked him how he felt now that the store was open.
Matt Stanley: “Yeah, you know, I didn’t expect to be so emotional. But, it’s been a long haul, been spending a lot of time over here and I couldn’t wait for people to get to see it. So, I’m looking forward to seeing the smiles and big full baskets of food.”
The co-op raised more than $2 million in local investments from its consumer-owners. The capital campaign leveraged additional financing to make the $10-million project possible.
The new store location at 2350 Marine Drive, is the former home of Astoria Plywood Mill, a worker-owned co-op. The mill shut down in the late 1980’s and the City of Astoria embarked on a major environmental cleanup so the area could be redeveloped into a mixed-use neighborhood.
The co-op, formerly known as “The Community Store,” opened 45 years ago at a storefront near the Columbian Café on Marine Drive in Astoria. It later moved to the corner of Duane and 14th streets, and then to it’s most recent location, 1355 Exchange Street.
This week’s opening was considered a soft opening for the new store. A grand opening celebration is planned for January.
I’m Joanne Rideout reporting.