Lori Korb, who has worked at Oryana for more than 30 years, officially retired last year. But you’ll still see her friendly face manning a cash register once in a while as she occasionally fills in as needed. We chatted with Lori about her years at Oryana.
When and why did you apply to work at Oryana?
I had always had an interest in healthy eating. I was about 16 or 17 when I became involved in the buying club in the early 70s and I would come and help unload when they came with the deliveries. It was on the porch of a veterinarian on 16th Street. The members drove down and got the bulk food from People’s Food Co-op in Ann Arbor. I used to make granola for Xipe, a small coffee shop and health food store on Union St. That’s where people got the idea for a food co-op. Later, I was going to NMC when I saw an ad in the paper for a job at Oryana and I applied. I was the main cashier.
What is one thing you have really enjoyed about working at Oryana all these years?
I really like meeting the people who shop here. They come from all walks of life. It’s a very diverse bunch. We rarely ever get a rude shopper, so we are very spoiled.
What are some of the biggest changes you witnessed?
It was a big deal when we started selling packaged groceries and frozen foods. In the beginning it was all bulk foods. In the early days members were upset when we started selling non-vegetarian food, like when we brought in fish sticks. They were very vocal. Some folks were also upset when we decided to sell chocolate. We had only carried carob chips. And back then we didn’t have air conditioning in the store (Randolph St.) So on really hot days, we put the carob chips in the cooler because otherwise they would melt. We would also go jump in the bay on our breaks on hot summer days and by the time we got back to the store we were dry.
Moving to 10th St. was huge. At Randolph St. the basement ceiling was so low that you couldn’t stand up straight. It was interesting whenever we had to put cases of heavy stuff in there, you would bump your head. And then expanding the 10thSt. store again and adding the cafe was also a big deal.
Sometimes when the general membership meeting was going on, I would ask people if they could go vote at the meeting, because we had to have at least 50 people for a quorum. I could never go because I was always working.
What are your plans now?
I plan to spend lots of time in my garden. I also like to sew. I want to go to New York City and visit Times Square and the World Trade Center. I’ll also still work at Oryana once in while.