Portland >People's Food Co-op
Embrace your inner hippie at this exceptional co-op hidden away in the laid-back Hosford Abernethy hood. It's got an incredibly well-curated selection of natural/organic/raw foods, cool classes, a weekly Wednesday farmers market AND the Sip juice cart parked outside.
Not just for members, People's offers competitive prices for bulk items. On Weds, bring $4 to the farmers' market for tamales! So worth it.
A Mixed Blessing. Having worked at, and/or been members of, Puget Consumers' Co-op in Seattle since the early 70s, we naturally joined Peoples' Co-op shortly after we moved to Portland. Although we never believed the sadly mistaken 'green and crunchy' hype about Portland, we were astonished to find that no co-op, or natural organic food shops at all, existed in our own Belmont neighbourhood. We therefore schlep down to Peoples' in Clinton every other week to stock up. We love the fact that there is at least one place in SE where we can buy fresh, quality organic produce and bulk grains, and the fact that it is one of very few non-commercial grocery shops in Portland (there only appear to be three very small co-ops here). But it pains me to say that I don't love shopping here. It is so small that it is extremely difficult to get around in, especially to re-fill bags from the gravity bins (eg cat crunchies). I have waited as long as fifteen minutes for an indecisive or flakey shopper (and they seem to be in the majority here) to move on before I can use the re-fill bins or containers. Nicely repeating "excuse me" rarely seems to have an effect, and since there is only enough room for one person to fit in any one section of an aisle (ie two people cannot work two sides of an aisle at the same time), the result is a great deal of spillage due to being constantly jostled, no matter how careful one is. In the co-op I worked at years ago, we put out rags, squeeze bottles of vinegar and water, and dustpans and brooms for people to use to clean up if they spilled something. I find none of these things at Peoples' and when I have tried to find a staff member to advise me, I have met with a flip and distracted manner. Several times we have also found all of the kiosks closed when we have gone to check out. I understand the financial constraints any co-op operates under, as well as scheduling conflicts, and the fact that the sheer physical smallness of the shop makes it very difficult to navigate, whether staff or shopper, but I am surprised that there is such a lack of staff at a time when so many people are out of work. My partner and I run our own business, usually working a 16-hour day, but I hope that someday we will find time to volunteer at Peoples'. In the meantime, perhaps some care could be put into making the shopping experience a little more pleasant. Re-designing the space, perhaps with a spiral configuration of the gondolas rather than straight aisles, could help. We care a great deal about the co-op and the ideals it represents; and with so few choices in Portland, we hope to continue being a part of it. But for now, we grit our teeth every time we have to go back to re-up our food supplies.
Great Food!. Great organic & vegetarian/vegan food. I hear they may be adding meat though so keep your ears out carnivores. Lovely staff who stocks hard to find vegan items (soy yogurt!). Farmer's Market on Wednesdays and free bike delivery for non-car drivers!
Best Produce in Portland. This little grocery in southeast Portland has the best produce around. They have an incredible variety of delicious fruits and veggies at great prices. Most everything here is organic and they have a huge bulk section. They also have a farmer's market right in their courtyard every wednesday (bonus for those of us who like it fresh). It's kind of hard to find, so you might want to call ahead for directions. By the way, the store is vegetarian, so you have to go elsewhere if you want meat.
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