Orcas Island Food Co-op to Open Second Location

January 31st 2022

by Jon Steinman – author of Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants & publisher of the “Who Owns Your Grocery Store” Report
(reprinted with permission from the original Q4 2021 report)

Orcas Food Co-op in Eastsound, WA

At only 7.5 years of age, this young co-op has quickly become a leader among food co-ops nationwide. Being located on an island, challenge and change seem to appear first, and with it, stories of “what’s possible”. The food co-op reached an important milestone this quarter on what will become their second location.

In 2019, a local non-profit was formed on Orcas Island to save The Olga Store (c. early 1900s) and The Olga Post Office (c. 1890). Located on the eastern reaches of the island, the Olga Store (c. 1937) had been vacant for many years and then in 2019 the post office building across the street was put on the market.

The community came together and through a 501(c)(3) non-profit, they purchased the historic building and then succeeded in bringing together USPS and the Orcas Food Co-op as tenants.

In October, all necessary permits to begin renovating the building were passed and the work to restore and upgrade the space is now underway.

The co-op’s presence in Olga will reduce the need among residents to drive the 16-mile (40-minute) round-trip into Eastsound to access basic groceries.

A wonderful story of how an established food co-op can branch out and support an underserved rural area.