Co-op Encourages Local Buying
by Kristina Walsh
You may have heard the slogan “Buy Local First.” Communities all over the United States are encouraging shoppers to consider local options when making purchases. First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op in Corvallis, Oregon makes it easy for customers to buy local.
Corvallis is rich in resources. Nearby farms provide fresh produce, berries, nuts, and other goods. Many items are sold at the Co-op, but people weren’t always buying. Donna Tarasawa, Marketing Manager at the Co-op says, “When we first started the program the percentage of local products we sold was about 16%.”
The program she speaks of is called “Local 6.” Local 6, which began in 2006, is a campaign that encourages folks to buy items that are made, produced, or grown within Benton County and its five nearby counties. Since the program began, the Co-op has seen growth in sales of local products. “We are now edging on 30%,” says Tarasawa.
Not only does the Co-op stock many local items, but it labels them as local. That way, customers can easily identify local products and make choices based on that. Tarasawa says this in itself is not unusual. “Many other co-ops clearly define and identify their local products.” However, “I am not aware of any others that have expanded their program to include restaurants in their city, which we have been able to do in Corvallis. There may be some, but I do not know who they are.”