Why I Shop at the Co-op #6

December 8, 2021

Sarah Perry treasures the community focus of the Food Co-op.

Sarah finds products she loves at the Co-op. 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised on farmland near Tappahannock, Virginia. We always had a garden when I was growing up, so I had the opportunity to eat food straight from the ground. That was a very meaningful part of my upbringing. During my first year at Mary Washington College, I began volunteering at Downtown Greens. While in college, I spent a summer at an organic farm in France, where I first learned about permaculture, biodynamic farming and natural water filtration systems. After graduating with a studio art degree, I returned to France and worked as an artist and clown in a circus troupe in the Toulouse and Bordeaux areas for six years. Shortly after I returned home in 2013, I was lucky enough to be selected as Downtown Greens’ Executive Director and I have been there ever since. I have two beautiful children – a 3-year old and a 6-year old. My partner Troy and I love to shop at the Food Co-op and feed healthy foods to our children. We eat primarily organic food which is really important not just for my family’s health, but also for the health of farmers and neighbors of farmers. 

When did you first hear about the Co-op?

I heard about the Co-op when it was first getting started. I joined in July 2016 – less than a year after the Co-op was incorporated when there were only about 200 owners. During the pre-opening days, I loved telling everyone about the Co-op and encouraging them to join. I really loved it when the Co-op had a special contest, as when all new owners who joined that month and those who encouraged them to join had their names placed in a hat and one lucky person would win $200 – the cost of an ownership investment!  I really worked on signing up new owners and every time there was a contest, I brought in new owners. It was lots of fun and it was for a great cause.

What are your favorite products at the Co-op?

I love the Palermo Eggplant sandwich from the kitchen. It’s so good. I always get a slice of cheese on it. If you haven’t had it, you have to try it.  Another product I really like is the Rebbl Chocolate Reishi drink — it gives me an extra kick when I need it. Right now, the product that our children enjoy the most is Soynog. Since my family is mostly vegan, I just love the variety of plant-based protein that the Co-op carries. I like trying new types. I’m pretty frugal and love the sales. I appreciate that as a Co-op owner I get an additional 10% off on Co+op Deals

What do you love most about the Co-op?

I love how easy it is to get in and out. We do almost all of our grocery shopping at the Co-op. Another thing I love is that when I shop at the Co-op, I’m supporting a community-owned business as compared to supporting a millionaire-run business. And I appreciate that from the very beginning the Co-op has been very supportive of Downtown Greens. For two months the Co-op has run a roundup program to help us raise funds to purchase 56 acres of greenspace here in Fredericksburg.

Have you ever made a suggestion to the Co-op and what was it?

I’ve asked the Co-op to carry Westsoy soy milk in the larger 64-ounce size. Our kids love it. It’s a really good source of protein and it’s organic. I also asked the Co-op to carry a certain kind of chocolate chips and a certain ice cream cone. I’ve requested maybe 10 different items and never gotten a “no.” It’s great to be able to suggest anything and it always shows up. That’s a unique benefit of our community-owned grocery store.  

What advice would you have for someone thinking about checking out the Co-op?

My advice is to leave your assumptions at the door. People assume that the Co-op’s products are more expensive because it’s a smaller grocery store, but that’s not always the case – especially when you look around for deals like I do. Also, EVERYONE should know that you don’t need to be an owner to shop at the Co-op. Take the plunge. Give the Co-op a try. The friendly Co-op staff and ambiance make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed.