Amid the tsunami of new construction around Bozeman, you might have missed — or forgotten about — the rather dramatic expansion of the Bozeman Community Food Co-op. But with little fanfare for nonmembers, the co-op got the job done and the expanded store is firing on all cylinders.

And that’s a pretty big accomplishment when you think about it.

The Co-op goes back 40 years to humble beginnings in a little house on South Wallace Avenue. Originally it was called Crossroads Consumer Services Co-op and was staffed mostly by volunteers who were looking for a little more control over the food they purchased and ate.

In 1984, the Co-op adopted its current name and moved to a larger location across College Street from the Montana State University campus. In 1992 burgeoning sales demanded even more space and the store moved to its present location on West Main. Ten years after that, booming business prompted a major expansion with the help of member loans. A few years later, growing demand forced store managers to find space for a kitchen and bakery at an off-site location. Then in 2011, The Co-op opened a second location in downtown Bozeman.

With the completion of the expansion on West Main, the store is able to move off-site kitchen and bakery operations back to the main store where they were much more convenient for customers.

Bozeman-area growth has certainly attracted its share of chain supermarkets. And they have provided shoppers with a wide array of grocery options. But through all the competition, locally owned grocers like Heebs, Town & Country and the Co-op have all managed to thrive.

The Co-op boasts more than 20,000 members now and — rather than paying a corporate hierarchy — it shares profits with all of the members. It’s all been built on a business plan that was certainly met with skepticism 40 years ago — member-owned with a heavy emphasis on marketing locally grown foods.

Congratulations to the Co-op and its volunteers and members on the success of the store’s latest expansion and best wishes for the future.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Don Beeman, community member
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Sarabeth Rees, community member
  • David Swingle, community member

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