The momentum for the Portland Food Co-op started in the spring of 2006, in reaction to the closure of a locally-owned natural food grocery in Portland. Community leaders organized several meetings to create a shared vision for access to local food. The community leadership agreed to create a cooperative grocery store in Portland. The vision for PFC included four goals: supporting the local economy, building the local food movement, creating a shared local business, and providing families with healthy, affordable food.
Over the next several years, the leadership team created by-laws, articles of incorporation, and a Member-Owner structure. In 2008, PFC was officially incorporated as a cooperative business, and in 2010 PFC kicked off its first Member-Owner drive, with shares available for $100. In the meantime, PFC operated as an all-volunteer buying club to provide access to food until a store could be opened. The PFC message was simply “invest in us, have access to local and bulk food now, and help build storefront co-op in the future.”
In 2012, PFC leadership returned to the feasibility stage of developing a retail co-op. PFC surveyed the membership and the community to learn their priorities and gauge interest. That feedback, in addition to a professional market study, led the board to decide that PFC would create a storefront food co-op open to the public, with no required work shift.
In the fall of 2013, PFC began a Member-Owner drive and fund-raising program to reach the 2,000 Member-Owners and $1.6 million needed to open a retail store. The PFC soon secured a lease on a space for its future storefront at 290 Congress Street, in the heart of Portland and just across the road from its previous warehouse space at 56 Hampshire Street. Meetings and surveys were held for the Member-Ownership to provide guidance on what the store should look and feel like. Renovations on the new space commenced in the summer of 2014, and both Member-Owners and the community at large watched in excitement as the long-awaited store finally took shape. After a soft opening in November of 2014, the PFC held a grand opening celebration on December 10, 2014. As the co-op prospers in its new space, we look forward to the next chapter in our story.