Long Prairie co-op marking 35th year
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Conveniently situated in downtown Long Prairie, Everybody’s Market has been serving the community since 1978, when it began as a workers co-operative. Marking its 35th year, the market is now a consumer’s co-op. It is the second-oldest retail business in Long Prairie that has remained under the same ownership.
Kay Bradlich joined the co-op in 1982 as both a member and a volunteer. She has been the manager since 1992.
“People used to comment that we were that ‘cute little store with the unusual products,’” she said. “We carry more groceries now but still carry bulk items from one pound to 25-pound bags. It’s still cheaper to buy bulk than pre-packaged items.”
The co-op was established as a workers co-op, with members earning a discount based on the number of hours worked in the shop.
With the cultural shift of more women working outside the home, it was more of a challenge to attract workers. The change was made to a consumer co-op.
The co-op has added many specialty items, including an expanded vitamin section. Some of these additions result from the requests of customers coming back to the area from the Twin Cities, said Bradlich.
“Our herbs and spices section has really expanded, in part because of our Amish customers,” she said. “We have many things for first aid, illness and childbirth.”
Several years ago, Bradlich became a certified herbalist, anticipating a possible Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement that never happened.
“We believe in preventative maintenance for the body,” Bradlich said.
“Kay is a remarkable resource,” said Co-op Board President Colin King. “We’ve gone in several times with questions and she knows immediately what to use.”
In 1992, there were two coordinators working at the co-op. Bradlich started as manager that year and worked the store herself.
In 2001, Bradlich’s daughter, Mariah Hendrickson, began working at the co-op too. They split their time, with Mariah taking the mornings and Bradlich the afternoons.
It is estimated that close to 10,000 food co-ops were established between 1969 and 1979, according to Greenberg and Watts in “Social History of the United States.” Although many of them folded in the years that followed, Everybody’s Market has stood the test of time.
“It’s the loyalty of our membership,” Bradlich said. “It’s what a community is — working together.”
The co-op promotes non-genetically modified (non-GMO) products. Market items have no monosodium glutamate (MSG), no nitrates/nitrites and no high-fructose corn syrup.
A freezer case is stocked with grass-fed beef from River Hills Ranch in South Dakota and Hobbs Herefords in Burtrum. There is pork from Fox Farm Pork in Browerville, maple syrup from the Dinkels in Long Prairie and honey from Ray Nicholson in Wadena.
LeRoy and Sue Miller of Long Prairie provide fruit in season, including peaches and blueberries.
Many of the personal care products in the shop are locally produced.
“We take orders for items from the Camphill Village Bakery,” Bradlich said. “We’ve partnered with them since the beginning.”
Everybody’s Market is also a community-supported agriculture (CSA) drop-off site for Russ Kleinschimidt of Long Prairie.
A wide selection of products are stocked for people who have food allergies, sensitivities or other special dietary needs. A variety of recipe books are available to help put the fun back in cooking.
“We have a good selection of gluten-free products,” said Bradlich. “We also have many ‘ancient grains’ such as farro, quinoa and einkorn.”
The co-op board has seven members. “It’s an excellent board, very progressive and active,” Bradlich said.
“It’s a fun group of people to be working with,” said King. “Everybody’s Market is an anchor business on Central Avenue that provides a really important service for people looking for food alternatives.”
“It’s one of those hidden treasures,” said Bradlich. “There are people who have lived here their whole lives and didn’t know we were here.”
Shoppers are not required to be members. Membership includes an initial fee of $20 with a $10 sustaining annual fee. Members receive a 5-percent discount on purchases.
For more information, call (320) 732-3900 or visit www.everybodysmarketlp.com.