North Country Co-Op will shut down by November 4. The venerable grocery store has been selling organic vegetables and bulk granola to West Bank residents and University of Minnesota students for 37 years. But mounting debt and declining sales led to a bleak financial forecast for the store. The decision to shut down, sell the building, and pay off the organization's debts was made at a meeting Monday evening.
The Twin Cities original co-op was in some ways a victim of its own success. "It's a bit of a Phyrric victory for us," says North Country board member Doug Sembla. "Originally the vision of the co-op movement was that organic and local foods would be accessible to everyone. Now you're seeing organic and local food at Cub, at Wal-Mart, at the corner stores. North Country was a big part in inspiring that."
Roger Dumas recalls shopping at the co-op as a long-haired U of M music student in the early 70s. "It was kind of dark and unadorned with industrial size drums of honey and very liquidy peanut butter and granola," recalls Dumas, who is now a researcher at the university's Brain Sciences Center. "If it wasn't for those three things I probably wouldn't be alive today."
(The Strib had a piece on this in today's paper.)