Oryana Turns 40
Oryana Turns 40!
Do you remember what was going on in the year 1973? Richard Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” was at the top of the music charts, and the movies “American Graffiti” and “The Sting” were big hits in theaters. But best of all, a small group of health and budget conscious people in Traverse City, after banding together so they could buy and split 50 lb sacks of flour, 40 lb blocks of cheese, and 5 gallon buckets of molasses, formed a an official food co-op.
At that time there weren’t a lot of health food stores around and those that did exist were expensive and only sold small packages of products. Buying high quality products in bulk at wholesale prices made sense and not only did the concept stick, it grew from monthly gatherings at people’s homes to opening up a tiny retail store on Front Street.
From these humble beginnings a natural foods cooperative was born and christened “Oryana,” after a fertility and abundance goddess of South America. Now, 40 years and three storefronts later, Oryana has grown to a $12 million business. Even though many of the faces of members, employees, and storefronts have changed over the decades, what has remained is the steadfast commitment to our mission: to provide high quality food produced in ecologically sound ways at fair value to member-owners and the community.
It is no small accomplishment for our co-op to have lasted 40 years so to celebrate this milestone, we are planning some great events for the coming months. At our general membership meeting in April we will debut a short film about Oryana in tribute to our anniversary. It will tell the story of Oryana from its early 70s roots to the present and feature some of our farmers and vendors as well as a member or two! The filmmaker is Aaron Dennis of Stonehut Studios. Then this summer, (date TBA), we will host a 70’s themed party with live music and great food. It will be a feast to remember!
Stay tuned for more updates on all the 40th anniversary happenings at Oryana.