Nearly five decades ago, members of the Morgantown community identified a common need for healthier foods and products in the area, and they decided to do something about it. In true Appalachian fashion, they didn’t just find a solution — they made one.
In 1975, Mountain People’s Co-op was formed to offer residents convenient and affordable options to purchase healthy, natural, and organic goods in a region where they weren’t often available. Around that shared goal grew a community, and over time, Mountain People’s Co-op — simply known around here as “the co-op” — became a beloved fixture in our community and beyond. We are a not-for-profit community-owned business, which means that each of our members has a voice in electing the Board of Directors and providing other valuable input that helps us shape the future of the co-op.
Like other social enterprises, we’re not guided by the singular goal of generating profit for shareholders, but by the goal of generating enough revenue to sustain our efforts and social profits. We’re guided by the seven cooperative principles, which means we place a particular emphasis on things like education, cooperation, and concern for the community. When you shop at the co-op, you’re not only supporting and sustaining our local business, you’re also making an investment in your local economy and in our network of Appalachian producers. Our dedication to transparency and accessibility means that our customers know the origins, and often the producers, behind the items they’re purchasing.
In addition to our regional collaborations, Mountain People’s Co-op partners with a variety of co-ops and other businesses across the country that are working to find more equitable and sustainable ways to get things done. These partnerships allow us to supplement our shelves and create a more diverse assortment for our customers. Each supplier we work with must meet our product guidelines for ethics and sustainability, and we take pride in working with producers who are equally committed to eco-friendly operations. Over time, we’ve added more locally-sourced items as they’ve become available, and today, these items account for a great deal of our offerings, including: approximately 90% of our meats; 60% of our coffees; 40% of our personal care products; 30% of our bulk supplies; 50% of our dairy products; and between 30-80% of our produce, depending on the season.
By sourcing our goods more locally, ethically, and sustainably, we’ve been able to reduce our dependence on mega-corporations and restore power to our communities. Though much has changed since we opened our doors, our commitment to quality, to our community, and to you, our customers, has never wavered. We’re proud of that legacy, and we look forward to serving our community for years to come.