When it comes to personal connections, Tacoma Food Co-op gets it. Recently voted Best Ecologically Friendly Green store by Weekly Volcano readers, the co-op is getting ready to celebrate its first birthday at its home on the corner of 6th Ave. and Junett.
"It's about meeting the smile behind your food," says Henri Parren, general manager. "In life, where do you have fun? What do you remember? It's connections."
On Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., fun will be had and connections will be made as neighbors and friends come together over food samplings, wine and beer tastings, raffle prizes, a kid's tent, an investor update tent, self-guided tours and more.
"In our short time it's been great. The city really has embraced us," Parren says.
The last co-op open in Tacoma was 30 years ago.
The new co-op plans to celebrate its birthday every year, which Parren says is part of Tacoma's personality.
"Anything related to a party is a good sell," he says. "Tacoma has a good time."
Parren knows how to have a good time, too. Joking with customers, playing with kids and feeding plums to a pot-bellied pig are common occurrences at the co-op.
"He has a sweet tooth," says Parren of Puck, the friendly pig who visits often. "His owner tries to give him veggies, too."
"Part of our mission is being involved in the community," Parren says.
Another part of its mission is to provide educational opportunities and access to healthy foods.
Tacoma Food Co-op works with local farmers, coffee roasters and artisans. There are bulk bins and craft beers. The co-op's inventory is based on customer polls. Working sustainably with neighbors while providing fair prices and eliminating food waste are priorities.
The shelves are lined with information about the food shoppers are buying. There's an introduction to farmers through photographs and farm bios, and there are signs boasting local products.
The carrots, apples, herbs and other produce are stacked into modest piles and the potatoes are covered with burlap sacks, both techniques prevent food waste.
While the co-op is member owned, everyone is welcome to shop and visit.
There is a coffee and tea station and sitting bar for folks to use. Free Wi-Fi is also available.
Whether you are a volunteer, owner or shopper, Parren says, "One person really can make a difference."
So come together and celebrate the greater good that the Tacoma Food Co-op offers.
Oh, and one more thing, says Parren, "Bring your appetite!"