by Amanda Baille

Eight years ago I was asked by the Co-op’s Board of Directors if I would be interested in becoming its project manager.  At that time, this grassroots effort to open a natural foods store had come to a fork in the road: to carry on raising the money needed during a downturn in the economy, or to call it a day. Thankfully, the former choice was taken.

The journey to opening the doors certainly wasn’t easy. Local businesses were struggling, membership sales were slower than we would have liked, none of the local banks would help us with a loan, and finding the right location was a challenge. I knew nothing about opening a grocery store. The odds certainly didn’t seem in our favor.

And yet, less than two years later, we had the store you enjoy today. Opening day was
one of the proudest moments of my life. It made all the stress, hard work, and tears
totally worth it. The community effort to establish the Co-op was extraordinary.
But that exceptionality didn’t end with the ribbon cutting in April 2011. It has very much been evident every single day since. Can you imagine stopping a staff member at one of the chain grocery stores and asking them for help with a health issue? Me neither.
Or how about grabbing a loaf of bread, baked fresh in Cochise County? Filling a bag with fruit, picked the day before? Munching on a burrito made by Bisbee’s acclaimed vegan restaurant? The list goes on, and hopefully you get the idea.

In the face of growing competition from the expansion of natural and organic items
at larger outlets, the Co-op has remained steadfast in its ability to offer what these
other stores cannot:

• A highly knowledgeable staff that genuinely cares about the Co-op and its mission and offers outstanding customer service.

• Specialty items that you can’t buy anywhere else in Sierra Vista.

• The largest bulk section in Cochise County – did you know this includes oils,
vinegars and spices?

• Natural and organic products, grown and made by people living right here
in our community. Your money directly helps LOCAL vendors.

• The ability to request items not currently on the shelves or to order in bulk.

• An active Facebook page to keep you updated on new items and sales.

• A monthly newsletter filled with info about the store, health tips,
recipes and more.

On-site classes taught by local experts.

• An outdoor garden and seating area to enjoy your grab and go lunch or a coffee
and locally baked sweet treat.

• No crowded shopping aisles and no long waits at the checkout.

• Easy parking.

Wow. We really are lucky to have this gem on our doorstep. And I haven’t even mentioned the added benefits of becoming a member.  I hope you’ll agree that the
Co-op deserves the support of the community that it in turn strives to support on a daily basis. Together, we can continue to keep the Sierra Vista Food Co-op what many of us know that it already is: extraordinary, unequaled in Cochise County, and a true community treasure.

Amanda Baillie was the Co-op’s Project Manager from July 2009 until April 2011.
She is currently a freelance journalist and is the editor of Vitality and
Discover Cochise magazines, published by the Sierra Vista Herald.