In 1960, a small group of Central Vermonters came together to provide access to food and products that were not readily available in the area. Neighborhood to neighborhood, the group's members took orders, distributed goods, and held potlucks. The model proved to be so popular that they quickly outgrew it.
In September of 1972, the Plainfield Co-op found a permanent location when it accepted an offer from the Village of Plainfield to purchase the Grange Hall for $5,000. A month later the first Annual Meeting was held and twelve members were elected as directors. The Plainfield Co-op went on to enjoy four years of growth.
By 1975, monthly revenue was at $18,000 a month, but sales suddenly dropped leaving a budget deficit of $200 a month. At the time, the Co-op's members were primarily centered in Barre and Montpelier which led some to speculate that the commute was too far for all but the most dedicated shoppers.
In 1977, the Plainfield Co-op voted to mortgage the Grange building to clear its balance sheet. At the same time, it voted to move the Co-op to Montpelier so that the purchasing, warehousing, and distribution activities of the Co-op would be closer to the majority of its members.
A Name Like No Other
The Co-op was named "Hunger Mountain Cooperative" - a name selected from an eclectic list of submissions including The Cackling Hen, The City Mouse, The Kit and Caboodle, and the Come What May Co-op.
In 1978, Hunger Mountain Co-op opened on the corner of Granite and Barre Street, just a stone's throw from the present building. In the spirit of generosity, a Co-op member purchased the building and then leased it back to the Co-op at below-market rates. That building has since been demolished and today the lot serves as offsite parking for Co-op staff.
In 1982, Hunger Mountain Co-op relocated to 403 Barre Street across from Sabin’s Pasture. This project was generously funded by members who provided unsecured, short-term loans.
In 1992, the Co-op membership voted to begin searching for a new permanent location in Montpelier. An appeal was made to members to increase their equity share in the Co-op, and another appeal was made for short term, unsecured loans.
Months of planning and fundraising led to the breaking of ground and construction of the Co-op that you know today. In 1996, our shiny new doors opened with ample room to serve our members and the community for years to come.
The Co-op today is home to more than 10,000 members, nearly 400 local vendors, and 180+ employees. We continue our founders' mission to act as a community and environmental steward providing sustainably produced and nutritious products year-round.
The Co-op’s environmental stewardship and sustainability efforts are ongoing, and we are excited about recent and future initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint. From new HVAC and refrigeration systems to plastic reduction and solar panels, we will continue to innovate our way towards a carbon-free future.