The Portland Food Co-op brings local producers and consumers together in a member-owned marketplace to grow a healthier community and a more sustainable food system. We model cooperative values, operate with transparency, and foster trusting relationships with our customers, employees, and suppliers.
As a cooperative business, we are owned and democratically controlled by the people in our community (like you), and profits are used to help the store better serve our community’s needs. We aim to develop and sustain our local economy, support local and organic farmers and producers, connect them to consumers, be an educational resource on food and health issues, and care for our employees the best that we are able.
The momentum for the Portland Food Co-op started in the spring of 2006, when a locally-owned natural foods store was bought and subsequently closed by a national whole foods chain. Community members organized and created a shared vision to open a cooperative grocery store in Portland. The energy for the Portland Food Co-op included four goals: supporting the local economy, building the local foods movement, creating a shared local business, and providing families with healthy, affordable food.
Over the next several years, a leadership team created by-laws, articles of incorporation, and a Member-Owner structure. In 2008, the Portland Food Co-op was officially incorporated as a cooperative business, and in 2010 kicked off its first Member-Owner drive.
The Co-op operated and grew as an all-volunteer buying club until the retail store could be opened. The Co-op’s message was simply “Invest in us, Have access to local and bulk food now, and help build our storefront co-op in the future.” By 2012, the buying club had over 300 Member-Owners and was realizing nearly $200,000 per year in sales.
In 2013, the leadership (now an official Board of Directors) made the brave move to open a retail store.
We began a Member-Owner drive and a fund-raising program to reach the 2,000 Member-Owners and the $1.6 million needed to open a retail store. We secured a lease on our space at 290 Congress Street. Renovations on the 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 Portland Food Co-op held a grand opening celebration on December 10, 2014.
The Co-op exceeded all expectations by achieving $3.27 million in sales in 2015 with over 40% of that being for foods and other goods produced right here in the state of Maine. Sales have since grown to over $4.8 million and we now have over 4500 Member-Owners. We are so thankful to our “Portland and beyond” community which has shown us so much dedication and support.