The online market opened by the Macomb Food Co-op in April continues to grow in popularity among shoppers and producers.
“We were worried that people would be unwilling to shop online, especially for groceries,” said Becky Bean, Chair of the Macomb Food Co-op board.
“But as the producers have come on-board and as people have realized that they can continue getting those local products even after the farmer’s market has closed for the season, people are really excited about it.”
Bean said co-op membership has increased since the on-line market began and more producers are using it to sell their goods.
She said the co-op’s long-term goal is to open a storefront in Macomb. But she considered the online market “a great way to start out.”
The co-op brought together members and producers for a bit of face-to-face time during its A Taste of Local event at The Old Dairy in downtown Macomb. Aaron Ferguson of Home Fresh Products in Carthage was among the producers who participated.
“We started out with produce. That was our focus in the beginning. And then as we saw the need for fresh, healthy baked goods and spreads we expanded,” Ferguson said.
He credited the online market with creating the demand that led to his business expansion.
The Macomb Food Co-op now has more than 350 members. Its board believes at least 400 are needed before it can open an actual store. Bean feels that goal is within reach, and she said the online market gives the co-op a concrete accomplishment that can assist in achieving its goals.
“You’re actually getting products and cooking them and eating them,” Bean said shopping through of the online market.
“And so they (members) have a real sense of what the store is going to be like when we finally do have a brick and mortar version of it.”