Day 209: Oryana Food Co-op

Oryana Natural Foods Market
Photo courtesy of Oryana Natural Foods Market

Oryana is a great community and folks come here to be a part of that energy,” explains Steve Nance, General Manager.  In downtown Traverse City, nestled in between commerce and neighborhoods, is Oryana Natural Food Market.  Northern Michigan is lucky enough to have the largest cooperative food market in Michigan with a staff truly dedicated to service.

People come to Oryana for a variety of reasons, looking for a variety of products.  Steve says that, “Patrons are looking for high quality food and other articles.  They trust in our stringent buying guidelines.”

Oryana Natural Foods Market
Photo courtesy of Oryana Natural Foods Market

Customers range from the nearly 3,000 member-owners to an equal number of greater shoppers that are searching for quality and local products.  Shopping at Oryana means that choices range from local produce, meats, eggs, artisan goods, breads, and specialty products.  The rest is supplemented from a natural foods wholesaler, and they have an extensive beer and wine selection.   Oryana has a focus on buying local.  Steve laughs, “It’s really cool that it’s cool [to buy local].”

Not only can customers shop at Oryana, but they can also, “own part of the business,” says Steve.  The coop has been community owned since 1973, and members receive really awesome benefits.  Membership fosters a collaborative effort that results in a democratically governed business supplying great stuff.  There is an elected board that makes decisions about how Oryana will operate, which really results in a positive place to both work and shop.

Since Oryana is so community oriented, they are also involved in a number of Traverse City and Northern Michigan events.  They do extensive work with initiatives supporting local buying, and support the linkage between farmers to retail.  Aside from that, they help with Great Lakes Bioneers, Empty Bowls, the Michigan Land Use Institute, and Taste the Local Difference to name a few events.  Oryana has its own Outreach Department that promotes education in schools about eating, healthy foods, and sustainability.  Steve smiles, “We try to create relationships.”

The Mitten is lucky enough to have really awesome coop markets in many cities.  Steve says, “There are great coops in Michigan.”  The National Cooperative Grocers Association collaborates as a Great Lakes group from the UP down to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The network shares resources and works to better the sustainable foods initiative throughout the region.  Just another way the Mitten shows love!

When a customer walks into Oryana, there is an automatic feeling of connectedness.  “The Oryana experience is different; we are always thinking about ways to improve,” explains Steve.  The store encourages “walk-arounds” to teach customers about certain dietary needs, or about the wide variety of wellness products.  Essentially, customers have an awesome time shopping and being a part of the community at Oryana Natural Foods Market. ~Joanna Dueweke, Regional Director

Oryana Natural Foods Market
Photo courtesy of Oryana Natural Foods Market

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