"People's Food Co-Op", at 3029 S.E. 21st Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood, has served Inner Southeast Portland shoppers for over half a century. It all started in the late 1960s as a food-buying club organized by a group of Reed College students who wanted to purchase whole foods. That was half a century ago, but it's still going strong.
Soon after it formed, the club incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the name "People's Food Store", and later set up its storefront in 1970. In the 1990s, a series of management and staff changes helped focus the intent of the venture as "a passionate and welcoming community, working together to provide healthful foods, sustainability, progressive land and animal stewardship, human rights, and social and economic justice." That's quite a menu for a food store.
Also in the 1990s, a small expansion to the shop added another checkout lane, a new exit door, and more bulk storage space. In a strategy to add to the store's success, the Co-Op began to offer an outdoor Farmers Market, and indoors focused on having a nearly exclusively-organic produce department. At present, that Farmers' Market is the longest-running year-round market in Portland – held on Wednesday afternoons, 2 to 7 p.m., under tents along the S.E. Tibbetts Street side of the property.
In 2001, the store added a cobb wall, and rest areas along Tibbetts Street. The wall incorporates colored glass bottles to focus sunlight inside, with a pleasing glow from indoors glowing outdoors at night. Bioswales on the east and south sides of the shop help recycle rainwater runoff, and a front patio seating wall offers those rest areas for customers.
The store also offers an upstairs meeting room, accessed by a back stairway (or elevator lift, if needed), and it's a popular facility for yoga classes, event rentals, and similar activities. You can sign up to be a "Member-Owner" online – www.peoples.coop/membership
The store is open daily, 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. For more information, call 503/674-2646.
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