Minneapolis' The Wedge: 35 Years and Going Strong

Happy 35th birthday to Minneapolis' The Wedge! A couple of quick facts to help celebrate:

  • With more than 14,000 member-owners, The Wedge Co-op is the largest single store, consumer-owned, natural food cooperative in the United States.
  • The Wedge Co-op owns and operates the farm Gardens of Eagan, which provides fresh organic produce to the co-op and other area busness.
  • The Wedge is also in the distribution space! The company owns Co-op Partners Warehouse, which distributes local and organic food (including Organic Valley products) to restaurants and other retail businesses.
  • Their 15-year old non-profit, Midwest Food Connection (supported by five other area co-ops as well), delivered 755 lessons about food, gardening and farming to K-5 school children throughout the metro area during the 2008-2009 school year.

Here's more cool news about The Wedge from their recent press release:

As The Wedge Co-op (, the Minneapolis natural food co-op with 14,000 members, marks its 35th anniversary this month, the co-op is distributing more than $693,000 in patronage refunds to its members.

The refunds, given to co-op members who have been active shoppers in its 2009 fiscal year, which ended June 30, will be proportional to their overall shopping activity in that year.

Patronage refunds are a member benefit that The Wedge and other natural food co-ops nationwide often give in years of profitability. The Wedge, whose annual sales have increased every year since its founding, has given $5 million in cash back to its members over the past 10 years.

Also as a result of its profitability, The Wedge gave $281,000 in cash and in-kind donations to community charities during the last fiscal year. And, in the face of the recession, the co-op has not laid off an employee and provides health insurance to its full-time staff members.

A value its held since its founding, the co-op maintains a strong commitment to local producers, organic standards and sustainability, demonstrated by the high volume of organic and local products it sells.

Last fiscal year, local products accounted for 33 percent of its overall sales. Organic products were 40 percent of sales.

“We began 35 years ago as a small but idealistic marketplace for organic and healthy food in which revenues go back into the local community and to local food producers and suppliers,” said Lindy Bannister, Wedge Co-op general manager. “We’re delighted and in awe of the success of this model, and we’re so appreciative of the members, customers, farmers and other partners who make this happen.

“Other Co-ops in our community and nationwide report similar growth,” she added. “We know that, despite the economy, co-op member remain loyal to their co-ops.”

Here's to The Wedge, a Minneapolis landmark and treasure, a local, organic, and fair-trade food beacon, helping to light the way for 35 years. We're lucky to have you.