By: Nate Furler, Mktg. Manager
Inside the doors of this community-owned, cooperative grocery store, you will find not only groceries, but also a Café and separate Kitchen Classroom space for enjoying what our hands (and your hands) can create in the way of wholesome food.
Our own Water Street Café features a daily buffet of hot and cold items – including containers and select items for take-out in case you need a hand getting dinner ready. These Café items are nearly all made-from scratch, every day, in a kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner items. This, in addition to a tasty spread of fresh-grilled, made-toorder sandwiches and a grab-n-go cooler stocked with sandwiches, salads, dips and spreads to enjoy.
Our fresh breads & pastries are supplied by several local producers, including our largest supplier in this area – Waving Grains Bakery. We get weekday deliveries of assorted fresh breads and pastries from the bakery kitchen located just a block away from the Co-op.
As witnessed by our growing meat department sales and customer comments – local, sustainable and humanely raised meat is in high demand. You will find both fresh and frozen options for meat at the Co-op – including frozen beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb and bison. Our fresh meat cooler features uncured ham, sausages, and hot dogs, plus fresh chicken, ground beef and other various meat items – including fresh fish as we are able to get it.
Our produce section features an array of root vegetables, many of which are local and remain so through even the winter season. Fruits, greens, and other vegetables line the shelves of our produce coolers and dry tables. Some of these are local (100 miles), some regional (300 miles), and some shipped in from other parts of the country (California and Washington). When we can’t get it local, we use suppliers that ensure our products are fairly and sustainably or gently raised – like Fair Trade certified bananas & Rainforest Alliance certified grapes. We also freely admit that sometimes you will find the occasional conventional item on our produce shelves, which is there because our members demand that accessibility.
Cheese, glorious cheese, lines the shelves of our 8 foot cheese cooler and ranges from fresh, housemade mozzarella and bocconcini (complete with seasoned olive oil), to international favorites from afar. Our cheese buyer has a passion for all things cheese and even offers a monthly cheese club which allows not only great, but spectacular cheeses to grace our palates.
Our bulk department is certainly the largest of its kind in northeast Iowa. Here you will find many of the items in our grocery department, however they are sans individual packaging. This practice has carried on since the early days – over 40 years ago – when a group of like-minded individuals pooled their time and resources to buy items more cheaply and with less packaging (and waste). Grains, pastas, beans, nuts, dried fruits, oils, nut butters, honey, spices, and more – totaling roughly 600 items altogether in our bulk department offerings. We do offer simple packaging materials for purchase and use in this department, but we encourage everyone to make efficient use of materials with their reusability and also to bring their own clean containers for re-filling. It is a great way to make strides towards a zero waste home and save some money in the process.
And don’t forget to check out our Wellness department for reputable varieties of nutritional supplements, body care items, and remedies from the natural world. Tinctures, vitamins, minerals, soothing salves, lotions and soaps – again, just to name a few – fill the shelves of this department.
Perhaps most notably, the knowledge and customer service provided by our staff throughout the store – be it Wellness, Produce, Bulk, or any department – strives to be second to none. If we don’t have the answer immediately, we will find it for you and help you make the most educated decision possible.
Though anyone can shop at the Co-op, we would be gravely negligent to leave out the fact thatwe are a cooperative organization. Among the many things that we stand for, member/ownership and the rights and principles that guide our organization are the beacons that guide our mission – not simply a bottom line of profitability. We aren’t just here to blindly make money.
Member/ownership has its financial benefits – like monthly sales and discounts. However, it also has benefits in supporting this local business that has a stake in this community of northeast Iowa and a greater commitment to the global community. Are you ready to own it? Now is the perfect time.
To become a member/owner, simply buy a share. There are two ways you can do it. The cost of a fully paid share is $140. This isn’t a yearly fee or membership fee. This is an actual share in the business. We don’t have membership fees – yearly, monthly or otherwise. We sell ownership.
You can pay this $140 in two simple ways. Either as a single $140 payment – the one-and-done. Or as 7 separate $20 payments over the course of seven years. Unlike your membership at some big-box retailer, your membership at the Co-op doesn’t expire. It is fully refundable, at any time, whether you have paid for the full share, or are simply in the process of doing so. You truly are investing in your community, and the community benefits from your investment. It doesn’t stop with us. It grows.