The history of the Viroqua Food Cooperative
The Viroqua Food Co-op began as a natural foods buying club organized by a small group of individuals who worked together to provide their families with healthy foods. In the fall of 1995 we opened our first store in a rented space at 303 N. Center St. in Viroqua.
Despite the limited space and out-of the-way location, our little Co-op began to grow and thrive. In 1999 we renovated our modest space and expanded the retail space to 920 square feet to meet the needs of our growing membership.
Just ten years later, with an ever growing membership, we completed construction of our new store at 609 N. Main St. with a retail space of 4,400 square feet, more than four and a half times greater!
The new building incorporates a number of green building techniques including natural lighting, a polished concrete floor that needs no harsh chemicals to maintain, insulation made of scrap blue jeans material and high-efficiency refrigeration cases.
More than 100 new members joined the first three days the store opened. In the year following the move the Co-op went from 15 employees to 50. Membership increased to 1700, and sales grew to $2.6 million. By the end of our second year in the new store, our membership had grown to over 2000 and sales were $3.1 million. Sixteen years after our humble beginnings, VFC now has more than 3,000 owners and employs over 50 people. In 2011 we added a new parking lot off Center Street that doubles our parking space. While over 75 percent of sales come from our committed owner-members, everyone is welcome to shop at the Viroqua Food Co-op.
Viroqua Food Cooperative strives to be an active partner in our community. We work to strengthen ties within the community and to provide alternative food buying options for Viroqua. We support dozens of local growers and producers by providing a retail outlet for their products. VFC contributes to our community by sponsoring educational events and donating to local organizations. We recognize that practicing good business citizenship supports the mission of our Co-op and will help raise the overall level of social and economic well being in our community
The Viroqua Food Cooperative combines a commitment to natural foods, superior customer service and the building of a cooperatively run business. We emphasize selling organic and local foods and products to promote the long-term health of individuals and the environment. As member-owners and as a center for community, we offer the opportunity to create together a work of enduring value.