Thursday, August 6, 2015

Party Like It's 1985

The Neighborhood Food Co-op will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday August 22 in Turley Park:

Neighborhood Co-op Grocery is celebrating their 30th year as a storefront by throwing a party for the community complete with free ice cream, lots of vendor booths with free sampling –including beer and wine (with ID), prizes, a free photo booth, plus a slip and slide water feature courtesy of the Carbondale Park District, and Southern Clayworks will be selling ceramic tableware. Plus, live music by the Bankesters starting at 2:00 pm and Gentle Ben & Friends beginning at 4:00 pm. It will be lots of fun and the public is invited to this free event!

Courtney Smith, outreach and owner services manager, We are excited to have musical acts The Bankesters and Gentle Ben & Friends to help liven the atmosphere. Lots of fun products will be sampled with a wide variety of suppliers and producers, including olive oil, salsa, jerky and items for sale from local artists, producers and farmers. A photo booth will be a rousing good time, along with a water slide and other fun happenings. It's been a great experience cooperating with other local organizations to plan our 30th Anniversary Park Party!”

The history of the store is one of total grass roots. Francis Murphy, general manager for the store tells the short story this way, “Neighborhood Co-op began around 1980 as a network of buying clubs. Early members would drive Lloyd Tucker’s (an SIU math professor) ¾ ton flatbed truck up to Madison, Wisconsin to the North Farm Cooperative warehouse and heap it full of bags of grains, beans, nut and cheese. With a full load the flatbed could only go 40 MPH and the 8 hours trip up to Madison became a marathon 12 hour return trip. Once safely back to Carbondale, the food was dropped off at various people’s homes, which served as distribution points for their neighborhood.”
Back in those days there was always a waiting list to get into the co-op, so in 1985 a store front was established at 102 East Jackson Street, which took the place of Mr. Naturals, a privately owned natural foods store. Members of the Co-op built the shelves with two-by-fours and smoke damaged doors that were reclaimed. In 1997, the co-op moved to 104 East Jackson, doubling the square footage. In 2005, a major change got underway to relocate to the Murdale Shopping Center where the store quadrupled in size! The Co-op continues to grow with the support of the Southern Illinois community.

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