Skip to main content

Sugar House Journal

Local Food Week Highlights Potential Co-op Market

Oct 06, 2016 15h39 ● By Travis Barton

Local food was the main subject of Utah’s Eat Local Week. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

As Utahns enjoyed the annual Eat Local Week, the folks at Wasatch Cooperative Market spent the time working toward their goal of opening their own market where the community is in control. 

The Wasatch Cooperative Market held a member-ownership drive on Sept. 16 at the Sugarmont Plaza as it works toward opening a full-service grocery store owned entirely by the community where each member equally owns a share. 

“It has everything to do with local,” Barbara Pioli, vice chair of the board, said. The event served local food and displayed local art for the member-owners and other invited guests. 

“All the food was prepared with local ingredients and made by local chefs,” Pioli said. 

The whole night was meant to exemplify and celebrate everything local. Pioli said they’ve done market studies that one year after the co-op market opens, they will sell over $800,000 of Utah products. 

“That’s really what this is all about is bringing attention to the public as to where they can purchase local goods to build a local economy to support the farmers and the restaurants that are sourcing their foods locally,” Pioli said. 

It’s important to remember, Pioli said, that doing this keeps the money in Utah. 

The process to achieving the goal of a grocery store has now passed the organizing phase. Pioli said they are now in the feasibility and planning phase. It’s an area where they continue to focus on building the number of members and its financial capital. 

The idea of the cooperative market is combining the food of a farmer’s market with the warmth, selection and convenience of a grocery store.

“It would be nice to have one location, right now you have to go to a lot of different stores to kind of pick and choose what you want,” new member-owner Cynde Howells said. 

Before it can begin finding a location for the store, the cooperative market needs 700 members. It has 400 right now covering nine separate counties from Tooele to Duchesne. Pioli said their market studies suggest after a year of operations, they will gain another 1,000 members. 

“We know there’s a good market for it, we just need to find those first 700 people,” Pioli said. 

Throughout the night’s event, Pioli would occasionally ring a bell signifying a new member signing up. Howells and Beverly Hanson were two of those bells. 

“I go to the farmers markets during the season and it would be nice to have something that’s year-round in one location,” Howells said of why she joined. “I want access to good, fresh food and I want to support the local growers.”

It’s $300 to become a member-owner and Wasatch Cooperative Market’s future is dependent on the community support, Pioli said. 

“Even though there’s not a store yet, if they believe in the idea…and it’s important to them, we need them to risk their $300 for it to come to fruition,” Pioli said. 

Hanson said she the board continues to hold more events like the food and art show. 

“There are so many people in Salt Lake City that are looking for this type of thing so I think it’s just a matter of getting the word out,” Hanson said. 

The evening also saw plenty of local art on display. Pioli, who has a background in the arts, said artists’ independent spirit really taps into a cooperative market. 

“They appreciate the local idea so it’s just a good synergy,” Pioli said. Some of the art on display was assemblage art where the artist uses various items to create something. 

To learn more about the Wasatch Cooperative Market, go to