Central Co-op Celebrates 40th Anniversary
In honor of its 40th anniversary, Central Co-op is holding a week-long celebration running Oct. 13-20. Originally founded on Capitol Hill in Seattle in 1978, the natural food co-op today is 14,200 members strong, supporting more than 120 employees, 400 Washington state producers, 150 community organizations and 12,000 shoppers every week in Seattle. A second store, currently under construction in Tacoma, Wash., will feature a fresh deli, fresh meat and seafood, a large bulk section, and a community room.
Special in-store events and discounts to mark the occasion include baby goats in front of the Seattle store on Oct. 13 along with 20 percent off all cheese; an Oct. 14 Fall Celebration with the La Paloma Artisan Market (and baby goats) in the parking lot of the future Tacoma store, with 20 percent off all supplements and body care at the Seattle location; and discounts continuing throughout the week, ending with 20 percent off all chocolate on Oct. 20.
“Over the course of the week, we plan to celebrate not only the members who make up our in-store community, but also the larger co-op community, including the wonderful Washington producers who support us,” said Garland McQueen, CEO of Central Co-op. “Every day of the eight-day anniversary celebration at the co-op will feature product samples in the store – with many of our producers coming in over the course of the week to share their products.”
Central Co-op’s guiding principles have led to in high wages and benefits, in addition to the recent vote by the owners to make it to a single-class cooperative grocery, converting to a solidarity model by creating a separate but equal class of worker-owners.
At the end of 2015, Central Co-op merged with the Tacoma Food Co-op. Also in 2015, the co-op also became the first grocery store in the United States to pay more than $15 an hour to entry-level workers, with full benefits, for which 92 percent of employees are eligible. Today, the co-op pays an entry-level wage of almost $17 an hour and has an average hourly wage of $22.19.
“We have grown and continued to thrive over the decades, thanks to the participation of thousands and thousands of people who have joined in our collective efforts,” added McQueen. “They have become owners, running for and serving on our board of trustees, working to keep our shelves stocked, and investing to keep our community effort strong for future generations.”
Dedicated to sustainable practices and the Washington state food economy, Central Co-op provides organic produce, humanely raised meat and wild seafood, a large selection of bulk goods and herbs, an extensive health-and-wellness section, and unique gifts. Through its Co-op Basics program, it carries 250 everyday items at especially low prices, and twice weekly it offers 10 percent off to those receiving government assistance, via its Healthy Community Program.