Amherst Wire

The buzz on All Things Local

Erica Garnett, Travel Editor

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From the outside, All Things Local on North Pleasant Street next to the Mercantile, may seem like your average co-op store in the valley. But inside, you’ll find a fresh take on over 200 local producers providing everything from organic spinach to handmade baby shoes.

All Things Local is a nonprofit cooperative that promotes democracy and equality in its operation, along with a buy-local ethos.

The food producers are as local as Amherst and only extend to a 100-mile radius from the store. Customers can buy local jams, fresh produce, prepared food, meat, fish and plenty of snacks and sweets. There are also herbal supplements and hygienic items such as hand crafted soaps and lotions.

The local craft producers feature jewelry, clothing and accessories such as dolls for young children and unique greeting cards. In  June, the market expanded to the gallery space next door  to accommodate more producers.

How it works

All Things Local is collectively run by half producers and half consumers. The board of members has the power to vote on important decisions for the market. To be eligible for the board, one must first be a member. Anyone, of any age, is welcome to be a member, even if a family wants to put the household name as their five-year-old child’s. Students and senior citizens pay an annual fee of $25 otherwise there is a $50 annual fee that helps the market pay its rent and keep the lights on.

The annual member fees the market receives from its current 1,000 or so members are crucial to its existence. The nonprofit market brings in about $1,000 a day in successful sales and  gives back  80 percent of profits to its food producers and 70 percent back to its craft producers.

Similar to the board, a membership is required to be a producer. An application is also necessary. The board will vote on whether the producer’s products will sell well at the store and fit in with the overall message the store promotes.

Aside from the board of members and all of their producers, the store is kept running by volunteers and two managers dedicated to providing local food and products to the community. There are 25 active volunteers who help run the cash registers, clean the store, and stock the shelves.

Anyone can shop here.

What’s in store

Upon my recent visit to the co-op, Manager Al Sax is hosting an in-store hard cider sampling. He provided samples and answered questions, while deterring the hands of eager kids away from baby tomatoes and directing them to kettle corn samples instead.

The co-op celebrates its one-year anniversary this month.

“We are an experiment,” he says of the store.

Sax was one of the  founding members alongside Tina Clarke, whom adapted the special organization of the cooperative from its sister store in Wooster, Ohio called Local Roots Market. Stores like these two are what Sax refer to as the “antidotes to the food giants that you see dominating the food markets.”

Sax wants to stress the accessibility the market makes to local foods and how they can supplement as much of one’s diet as desired. The cooperative market is a place for people with an interest in local food, community and a market to sell their products.

The All Things Local Cooperative Market  is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Walking through the doors you will be greeted by a friendly and helpful staff, simultaneously with a vast amount of products from your local community, for the benefit of everyone involved.

Erica Garnett can be reached at eg[email protected]

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The buzz on All Things Local