By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,234)
“This has been an ingenious team collaboration,” said Kevin Gadsby, Executive Director, of the new Portland Food Co-op at 290 Congress Street, near the bottom of Munjoy Hill. Gadsby was pointing at the light fixtures in the ceiling as he talked about them. Several over the cafe area are made from metal planters and others from old pine boards. Isle signs likewise constructed from wood are the creation of a new company, Island Signworks.
From homemade soup to nuts and everything organic in between can be purchased in this full-service grocery store. In an email sent to its more than 2,000 member-owners, Mary Alice Scott, outreach coordinator said that the current product selection isn’t necessarily permanent. “We want your feedback on product selection to ensure the items we stock are what you want.” The next three weeks, until the Grand Opening Celebration, will be used to get customers feedback as well as time for testing all store systems.
Currently the Co-op is working with between 100 – 120 Maine producers. This number is expected to grow as the business grows. Twenty people are employed and more staff is expected to be hired as the demand indicates.
The parking lot out front of the store was full and so was the store inside. Shoppers were filling baskets with organic products they haven’t been able to find on Munjoy Hill previously. Hill resident Betsy Handley said: “I’m very impressed. They have a wide variety of healthy, local items. For me its exciting to have a place that I can walk to us important, because I don’t drive.” Another shopper, Eileen Bartlett, who was buying homemade tomato soup from a tureen, and lives close by said: “This is really convenient for me.” Helena Nash said: “I’ve been excited about this opening. It looks great and everyone has been helpful. I’m eager for them to bring in more and more local options – like local meats and eggs.”
Initially, the Portland Food Co-op will be open from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday it will be open from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. As the Co-op gets businer, Gadsby will be able to hire more people to keep longer hours. Parking is plentiful.
The Co-op has organic Turkeys for sale, although it will not be open that day.