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Food Co-op In Reno Faces Growing Pains

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

But the co-op’s growth is bringing challenges.

Sales were up 38 percent last year to $2.5 million. General Manager Jolene Cook compares that growth rate with more than 100 co-ops around the country. It turns out, the Reno co-op’s growth is nearly four times what the National Cooperative Grocer's Association considers “healthy.”

“I think there is a little bit of sympathy for the staff, it really is quite stressful to not have the things systems in place when you are growing at that rate," says Cook.

Cook says the store needs a protocol for dealing with customers, more cash registers, more parking and suppliers that can handle the demand.

“Before when we were younger it was like, ‘Anyone who had anything that was local,’ we were like, ‘Come on down, bring it on over, the more the better," she says.

Now, she says, the co-op has to screens suppliers. The growing pains are welcome. Cook hopes to turn a profit this year for the first time.

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