The St. Peter Food Co-op has a colorful and unique history which begins in the spring of 1979. At that time, an ad in the St. Peter Herald announced a meeting for those interested in starting a co-op store. The group decided to rent the only available space in town – a small storefront on the corner of Front Street and Broadway Avenue in St. Peter. When the co-op opened its doors in July 1979, its membership had already grown to 60. The co-op’s early inventory consisted mostly of bulk items, including beans, grains, flours, dried fruits and nuts, and occasional local produce. The co-op opened with an all-volunteer crew who took care of all the work required to operate the store – ordering, receiving, stocking, bagging, cleaning, cashiering and everything else. The group set a goal of $100 a day to break even.
The co-op continued to grow and thrive throughout the years and the time came to move from a worker co-op (or one where work is required of the membership) to a more traditional consumer co-op structure. In 1990, the membership approved a new set of bylaws and Articles of Incorporation that made this change a reality. The new bylaws also raised the member capital requirement from $5 to $80 – providing the co-op with much needed capital. It was understood by all that relocation was on the horizon and after an enormously successful membership drive in March 1994 that became a reality with the co-op opening the doors to its new location at the corner of Broadway and Highway 169 on June 2, 1994.
Things were going well…membership and sales were up, then Mother Nature showed her force in the form of a horribly devastating tornado on March 29, 1998 that destroyed much of St. Peter. With the outpouring of support from our community and co-ops around the country, our co-op was able to reopen after three weeks and has continued to grow in every facet since then. After all the co-op has gone through, it is evident that we will be around for years to come!