Watch our awesome 40th anniversary video.
As 2014 draws to a close, we pause to reflect on this, our 40th year as a cooperative. Oryana was officially christened in 1973 when a group of locals who wanted access to healthy, whole food at a reasonable price got organized and formed an official food cooperative. As with anything in life, there have been ups and downs along the way –from the theft of the store’s operating capital, which had been hidden in a 50 lb bag of dried beans in the earliest years, to 25% sales growth in 1999 – and through it all, Oryana has steadfastly marched forward.
Many co-ops formed in the 1970s, born out of the ideas and philosophies of the 1960s counterculture; young and idealistic members opened these stores. But not all of them survived. According to the NCGA, “They were unable to escape the same problems that had troubled older, earlier co-ops—insufficient capital, inadequate membership support, an inability to improve operations as the natural foods industry developed, a stronger commitment to idealism than to economic success, the lack of adequate support from their wholesalers, and resistance to consolidation.” But Oryana not only survived, it thrived. Things are going so well, in fact, that a potential second store is on the horizon.
It is immensely gratifying that more and more people understand the importance of whole, healthy, organic food while also supporting the co-op model of business, a wholly different approach than the standard way of doing business which pays primary attention to the bottom line at the expense of doing what’s right for people and the planet.
As we look to the future, using our Vision 2022 as a guide, we have great things planned, but that will be executed with prudence and due diligence. A second store will most likely happen in the near future, as will mini “stores” or kiosks in a few strategic locations around town. Other projects include a separate food service facility, expanded catering, a staff nutritionist, among other exciting things.
The world is in a precarious state and it’s easy to lose hope with so much going wrong. But co-ops like Oryana are a bright spot of hope, community-focused, people-centered, environmentally conscious, thoughtful businesses that work to do the right thing with every facet of operation, from installing the most efficient toilet to asking vendors to switch to non-GMO ingredients for their products, to awarding grants of over $5000 to local non-profits.
Thanks to all our members and customers who shop the co-op and here’s to another 40 years of being northern Michigan’s best and coolest natural foods cooperative!