Like many in the Oshkosh community, I was affected by the pandemic. It’s the reason why my finance and I moved to Oshkosh in the first place. I know that others affected by the pandemic have not been as lucky, and I’m proud to help out however I can. This month,...
Oshkosh is about to get another grocery store. But it’s not like a regular grocery store, it’s a cool grocery store. Oshkosh Food Co-Op (OFC) is set to open their grocery store around summer 2021 in central Oshkosh, a USDA designated food desert. The store will be located on the first floor of the new Brio Building at Jackson St. and Pearl Ave. If you’re looking for a new grocery store to purchase locally sourced produce, continue reading to learn more about OFC.
About Oshkosh Food Co-Op
OFC is a not-for-profit entity which has been in operation since 2013. “It takes an average of 5-7 years to start a food co-op, and we’re excited to be Northeastern Wisconsin’s first food co-op,” says Lizz Redman, Project Manager for Oshkosh Food Co-Op. The mission of OFC is “to provide a thriving, member-owned, full-service grocery store in the heart of the city.” The co-op plans to source at least 20% of their grocery store locally, with an emphasis on organic and natural food. They were recently accepted as a member of the “National Co+Op of Grocers”, which is the only new co-op that was accepted during this round of applying for membership. Cooperatives around the world, including OFC, follow these seven internationally recognized principles when operating their co-op:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
As of November 12th, 2020, they have 1,390 members and are growing. Their goal is to reach 1500+ members before the store opens. When you purchase a membership, you purchase ine share of the business, and you can choose to pay for your membership up-front ($180) or through a payment plan. Non-members of the Oshkosh Food Co-Op can shop at their grocery store, however members can receive benefits like in-store discounts, voting rights, and possible profit dividends. When you purchase your membership, you can also opt for a yard sign to show that you’re a member of the co-op!
Become a Vendor
In addition to looking for members, they’re also looking for vendors. They’re looking for vendors of produce, beer and wine, options for a grab and go section, maple syrup, and more. You don’t have to be a member in order to apply as a vendor. If you’re interested in selling, you can fill out an application here and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org; they offer applications in English, Spanish, and Hmong. Vendor applications are being reviewed by the new general manager, Jeffrey Thouron, who will be relocating to the Oshkosh area in January from South Dakota.
The new Brio Building is set to finish construction sometime next spring. “Every time I drive by and see a little more of the building progress it feels very surreal; the Brio was just a plan on a piece of paper months ago and now it’s coming to life,” comments Joseph Stephenson, Board Member of OFC. OFC is hoping to start the build-out process for the store in April, depending on when construction is officially finished. While you’re waiting for their grocery store to open, there are ways to support OFC! A local student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is selling holiday cookie decorating kits from Happy Bellies Bake Shop in Appleton, and proceeds will be donated directly to OFC. Kits are $33 (includes 12 cookies, frosting and decorations) and can be ordered through November 30th.