In this installment of Street Level Sounds, I visit All Things Local, a new co-operative grocery store in downtown Amherst.
(Chatter and noise of refrigerators and shoppers.)
SHOPPER 1: Oh my god, look at this! You know what, I think there’s fresh vegetables here!
SHOPPER 2: You’re really excited about this, aren’t you?
SHOPPER 1: Yeah! I mean, I don’t have to go all the way somewhere else.
ALAN SAX: My name’s Al Sax. I’m the General Manager for All Things Local.
DAVID: So, what gave you the idea to start up All Things Local?
ALAN: The Board of Directors and a group of people in the community got together a couple of years ago and started looking at ways to get the benefits of a farmer’s market on a more ongoing basis.
And Tina Clark, who is an activist in the community, had seen a model that was working out in Wooster, Ohio, which is a small college town in the middle of Ohio. They had developed this model which is what they described as a “shared-risk model,” where producers as members of the co-op come together with consumers. And they supply the products, the co-operative sells them, and the producers get a hefty percentage of that sale price- the producers set the price. In our case, it’s an 80-20 split.
We’re a very heavily volunteer-dependent type of organization, so we’re light on staff, the idea is trying to make sure that we can keep good-quality food, local food, coming to the community through this model, and that the producers get a fair price for it.
We’ve been open for three Saturdays, we’re in our third week right now, and we feel like we’ve been quite successful seeing that we’ve done very little publicity on this. People are finding us. People are excited about us, and we have people banging on ours doors trying to sell products here. Consumers are delighted when they find the quality of the product, how close the different foods are being made, or the delightful crafts people have made. So it’s been very positive. People are very excited.
City Hall has been very supportive of us. Atkins Farm is a member of the co-op. A number of folks understand this is only going to help keep our vibrant agricultural community alive.
We’re looking for it to be a real community space where people can get fresh local produce, and get food that’s being generated by this community and have it delivered to people who are looking for that kind of produce.
Every day there’s examples of people coming in and telling us how excited they are about this store. We’ve had a ninety-four year old woman walk three blocks to come here, and she likes the fact that she can bring her little wagon down here and get her food. Those are inspiring to me. The other folks that I get inspired by are the four-year-olds that come in. And they love the local market and they want to volunteer. We’re trying to figure out how we can have a four-year-old do something that’s helpful for us!