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  • Writer's pictureHarmony Coop

Harmony Co-op: 44 Years of Community

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Harmony Co-op is celebrating our 44th anniversary this month! From humble beginnings as a buyers’ bulk co-operative in a basement to a small downtown storefront and now a full-service grocery and health store with a thriving outreach program, Harmony has certainly come a long way. We're celebrating this year in a few different ways, including a fresh coat of paint and a major deli renovation - but what we're really celebrating is our owners, all of you who have chosen to make the investment in not just your local grocery store, but your community as a whole.

We began as a bulk ordering group in 1976, evolving into the Harmony Cooperative Grocery in the spring of 1977, and arrived downtown as the Harmony Natural Foods Co-op in 1991. From those humble beginnings we evolved to a full-sized grocery, arriving in our current Irvine Avenue location in 2011, where we boast such amenities as a fully-certified commercial kitchen where we can now help other small local businesses succeed (like Bemidji Brewing, which began here and now has a standalone brewpub and restaurant).

You've probably noticed some construction going on around here this spring. Harmony Co-op isn't just celebrating our anniversary, we're celebrating ten years in this space in June - and that's worth a little work! We've got a brand new logo, which ties into both our historical themes and our outside sculpture; also, our deli has been renovated and expanded to include a new hot bar and food offerings (including our famous Good Food Deli pizza, now available by the slice!); we've repainted all the inside walls with a brand new color scheme (thanks to Ley's Painting for all their hard work!), and those freshly-painted walls have been adorned with new signage and messaging (thanks to Meyers Signs!). We'll have new outdoor signage installed shortly, which will complement our outside seating area and pergola perfectly.

Being an owner of Harmony Co-op means you’ve invested in a business committed to whole foods, our community, local farmers & producers, the cooperative principles and our environment. It also means that you receive special benefits! See a full list here, but some highlights include:

  • Receive four 10% off discount coupons (each saving up to $6) for in-store purchases per year.

  • Owners who are seniors (65 and up) receive 5% off EVERY DAY on in-store purchases.

  • Receive patronage dividends based on your percent of purchases and the profitability of the business in said fiscal year declared by our Board of Directors. We returned over $36,704 to owners in 2021!

  • Receive exclusive sale offers and giveaways. Last year's Owner Deals flyer savings added up to $293.07!

While being an owner gives you personal benefits, what does being an owner mean in the community?

  • It means supporting the work of local organizations (like Bramble Bee Bread and Bar Bell Bee Ranch) that are dedicated to making a better world for us all. When you buy local products, more money stays in your local community, making it more economically resilient and sustainable. Co-op shoppers are supporting local entrepreneurs and small businesses and are making a difference!

  • Harmony Co-op is working to honor & support Indigenous nations, communities & cultures in ways beyond signage. We offer local products from Native American-owned and operated businesses, such as Red Lake Nation Fishery, Red Lake Nation Foods & the Gitigaanike Garden.

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic did put a pause on all our in-person events, we have adapted and pivoted to continue growing community together in whatever ways we could. Our in-person cooking and education classes have gone online to Zoom (check out our past class offerings here on our Youtube channel!), and our Co-op Explorers kids' program is now a Monthly Explorers Gift Bag program (see more info here)

As much fun as we're having looking back over our last 44 years, we're even more excited to look forward into the future! Our Annual Owner Meeting is coming up on April 25th - while this year it'll be virtual on Zoom, it'll be just as much fun as past years with great giveaways, plus you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home! Even more exciting - we are hoping to be able to return to an in-person Harvest Fair this fall, so we can truly celebrate our local community and producers together the way we love to so much! We're so grateful and fortunate to be a part of the greater Bemidji community, and we can't wait to continue celebrating with you for years to come!

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