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An Open and Welcoming Marketplace - The Brattleboro Food Co-op has been serving Vermonters for nearly 50 years

Jul 08, 2024 01:01PM ● By MARIE EDINGER
Cooperatives are a special type of institution. Rather than operating to please outside investors, they’re owned and controlled by their own producers and users. That describes the BRATTLEBORO FOOD CO-OP  to a tee. It builds on the core values of the “Shop Local” movement, helping people in the community market their products to their neighbors. In fact, Brattleboro Food Co-op says its goal is to be “an open and welcoming marketplace for everyone in the com- munity and beyond.”

The Co-op carries a wide variety of products, including locally farmed produce, humanely raised local meats, and Vermont cheese. It also offers made-from-scratch meals in its deli, natural, organic, fair-trade, and sustainable grocery items, high-quality wellness products made locally, and one of the most extensive beer and wine selections in the region.

Jeff Houle has managed the beer and wine section for the past 15 years, which has given him a wealth of knowledge of local spirits. He spoke with BrewView about his job and the Co-op in general.


“Through the years, I’ve learned that I don’t pick products based on whether I like them or not,” he says. “I buy products based on what I think the consumer is looking for.”

He cites the trends in the beer and can describe what they’re looking for, I can always point them in the right direction,” Jeff says.

He says those interactions with customers are part of what makes the work so joyful and what sets Brat- tleboro Co-op apart from the big box stores.

When he recommends something to a customer, and they come back to say it was a hit, “It’s very rewarding,” he says.

The Brattleboro Food Co-op also offers wines from all over the world but focuses mainly on small productions with comfortable price points.

“With wine, we have a very eclectic mindset. We try to focus on small family-owned wineries,” Jeff says. “We have organic, and we have all-natural; we run the gamut.”


In addition to the marketplace, the Brattleboro Food Co-op houses offices, a conference room, and a community room on the second floor. There is also a commissary kitchen and cooking classroom. They have a café where local musicians perform and 24 apartments that the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust owns and manages.

Plus, the Co-op is a cool place to hang out and shop. “What you get at local co-ops is face-to-face interaction,” Jeff says. “We have a great selection, and because we focus on local goods, you’re not going to find what we carry in a supermarket.”


From an economic standpoint, the Brattleboro Food Co-op shines. The money you spend there goes back into the local economy. Studies show that 43 cents out of every dollar spent in a chain store stays within your local economy, whereas 67 cents of your dollar stays local when you shop local.

“The majority of the time, when you walk into a big box store, you’re not greeted, you’re not given any insight into the selections you make,” Jeff says. “You just walk in, pick something off the shelf, and then go to the checkout. At a local community-based market like we are, you’re going to have three or four interactions with people before you walk out the door.”

Next year will mark the Co-op’s 50th anniversary in business. Marketing and Community Relations Manager Amy Crawford says the Co-op will celebrate in style all year long. A birthday party will be held in February, but they’ll also host events and special sales all year long, starting in January 2025. 


2 Main Street

Brattleboro, VT 

[email protected] 

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