The first time I understood what a co-op was wasn’t the first time I stepped into one. I remember discovering Outpost years ago because I’d heard that Milwaukee had a store like Willy Street in Madison. I missed shopping for bulk herbs, incense and homemade cookies like I did in my college days. I walked into our then Holton Street store and was hit with “that co-op smell”. I knew I was home.
It took me a few more years and a couple of job changes to really understand what a co-op was. I was in sales and called on co-ops but mostly I thought of them as places I liked better than my other accounts. I even joined Outpost during this time because I thought that supporting my “home” store made sense. It just felt right.
It wasn’t until I started working for a natural food distributor*, a co-op, and got a crash course in how a cooperatively owned business was structured that I started to understand. I learned how buying clubs worked, and the deep history of cooperation in our country and around the world. I fell in love with the collaboration and the sharing in, and between co-ops. I marveled at how co-ops offered a more transparent, more equitable and democratic way of doing business. I was finally working for a place with values that went beyond the financial bottom line. I knew I was home.
Since 1964, before Outpost was a twinkle in a barefoot hippy’s eye, October has been National Co-op Month. Cooperatives have been around, some would argue, since the 1400’s, but officially since 1844. There’s a reason for this and it goes beyond business - Cooperatives continue to be the way 350 million people across our nation get things done. Cooperation’s historic model has proven itself scalable into the future, over and over again. As multi-national corporations control more and more of our commerce, our land, our resources, our government, and communities, cooperatives offer a different path where us humans can control and share everything from day care to banking, farming to grocery shopping, and more.
One of the things we often hear from our many owners is that Outpost feels like home. That doesn’t surprise me. Cookies help but I’m guessing it’s because it’s easy to feel at home in place that yours and ours together.
So, from my home to yours, and from our home together, Happy National Cooperative Month. We are indeed stronger together!
Director of brand & store development
In this issue:
HOME COOK A family of foodie friends
FALL INTO FLAVOR A homespun harvest
MAC AND CHEESE for every need
COWS WITH AN ATTITUDE A trip to Sassy Cow
and more ...