There is a small sign in the store. “North Country Coop in continuous operation for 35 years. That’s 200 years in Coop years.” You can say that again. What a remarkable achievement by the Twin Cities oldest food cooperative. Now they number possibly a dozen. North Country Coop, as the day manager explained, is “the mother of all food coops.” This in answer to my question about why NCDF has virtually the same name. Today NCC is not the largest food coop in the metro area and, by some standards, probably not the most successful. But they’re still plugging away and now they are one of only two coops that continues its volunteer program in addition to paid staff. Hampden Park, our coop here in St. Paul, is the other one. All of the other food coops in the metro area, anyway, now are entirely managed by paid staff. That’s not a bad thing but it is a different business model.
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Maybe it could be said about NCC that it is “the little coop that could.” It’s rich traditions has it continuing to serve a highly diverse customer and member base. New Americans shop in the store and volunteer. Clearly they have a very loyal base with the Seward Coop less than a mile away over on Franklin Avenue. Not too many years ago NCC had an opportunity to take a very big step: purchase the building in which the store is located. I am proud to say that NCDF was there when NCC needed a loan to make that purchase possible.