March 17, 2021 25 Comments
Truly a store with a mission, Sacramento Co-op partners with local nonprofits like the River City Food Bank, which is right across the street from their store, to improve food security for their neighbors in need. The store also has worked with the Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project about 20 years in order to help make connections between food, health and the environment and give people the tools they need to eat well.
We recently asked Sacramento Co-op's outreach manager Julia Thomas a few questions about their store, our presence in it, and more about the co-op's impact on the community.
Tanka Bar: What does it take to run a successful cooperative?
Julia Thomas: Our success is largely due to our supportive membership. Almost 11,000 members of our community own a share of our store, and we really work for them. Their demand for access to high quality food is how we got our start as a buying club in the early 70s. Since then, demand has continued and grown, so that is our main focus. As trends change, we follow them without straying from our core principles.
People have a lot more choices now than they did in 1973, so we employ a diverse, dedicated and friendly staff to make sure our customers keep coming back. The food has to be good too, and it is! We stock our shelves with the best quality we can find, and our Deli & Cafe staff make everything from scratch in house every day, which has developed a loyal following.
TB: What sets Sacramento Co-op apart from other stores?
JT: So many things! The number one reason people shop at our store is because of the quality products we sell. Our produce is 100% organically grown, largely from farmers we know by name. Our meat is from ranchers who care about their animals and the environment. Our grocery products have no artificial ingredients, and so many of the products we carry represent incredible stories that our customers really connect with. Tanka has one of the most compelling stories, but there are so many great ones! Our members and shoppers want to buy products that make their bodies feel good, and that they can feel good about!
TB: How does the co-op make a difference in the community?
JT: Our store has been here for almost 50 years, so our roots in this community are deep, and we are invested in this place. Unlike a chain store, we won't just pick up and go somewhere else if sales here aren't as good as we'd like. There are close to 11,000 of our neighbors who have a stake in our success. Part of our success depends on how well we lift up our partner organizations, local farmers and the food entrepreneurs right here in our backyard. If we all do well, we all contribute to a vibrant local economy and pulsing community.
TB: What are some of the favorite features of your store?
JT: The connections that we have with our farmers and producers – some of which have been nurtured for decades – and the delicious produce and products that they bring us. Our product standards really make it easy for people to make healthier choices for themselves and for the environment. The fact that all of our prepared foods are made fresh daily on site is unique in our area. The staff here are so helpful and supportive and committed and they are treated with dignity and respect. EVERYONE is welcome here and that contributes to a customer base that is diverse in every way!
TB: How does Tanka fit in your stores and how is the overall response?
JT: Tanka is a perfect fit for our store because it is a natural product with nothing artificial, and its story has a 150-year legacy behind it! Our shoppers love being able to choose products that represent real people and help improve their lives, and Tanka's vision is one that they can totally support! The response has been great - we continue to merchandise the Tanka products in various areas of the store so that more shoppers will discover it. We look forward to sharing the Tanka story with our shoppers in multiple ways –– social media, podcast, in the store (and someday) with in-store sampling and offsite events!
To learn more about Sacramento Co-op, visit sac.coop.
Tanka Fund’s goal is to convert 1,000,000 acres of virgin prairie to regenerative agriculture built around a buffalo based economy. Join us in restoring health and prosperity to Native communities.
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