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Food co-op in planning stage

Hillsboro group wants to start new venture, but seeks more partners


A grocery store with fresh, organic foods from the farmer down the road who pays employees a living wage while encouraging alternative transportation sounds too good to be true.

Though it’s still in the planning stages, a co-op could be a Hillsboro reality in the next year or two.

When Karen Smith moved from Corvallis to Hillsboro last year, she was disappointed with her options to buy healthy, local food. So she got together with three other Hillsboro residents to forge a common goal — starting a food co-op, owned by members who would manage the store and share decision-making and profits.

What really sets a co-op apart, said Smith, are the ethics behind choosing products.

Smith envisions a place where people can shop and rest assured the “food they’re buying was produced in a sustainable way, animals were treated well, and workers and farmers were paid fairly.”

She also hopes it will be a gathering space for people to share ideas and find ways to participate in community projects.

The co-op will probably look for ways to encourage alternative transportation as well. For example, the co-op is considering offering stamp cards for employees to mark every time a customer rides the bus, bikes or walks to the store. When the card is filled with the stamps, customers would then receive a discount on their next purchase.

Smith said the group plans to incorporate the co-op in the next few months.

Smith’s group needs six to eight more people to be members of the board of directors who are “willing to dedicate their time, learn and share their passions.”

Members pool their individual strengths — such as accounting, marketing, planning and communication skills — and run the business together.

“This is something we are really passionate about and something we’d really like to see happen,” Smith said.



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