The Common Market has come a long way since its creation, but we have always maintained our values.
The Common Market was created in 1974 by Randy and Francy Williams as a buying club that operated out of their home. Through the dedication of volunteers who drove to warehouses to pick up bulk goods, staffed the cash box, and believed in the Cooperative Principles, the buying club was able to thrive and expand.
They continued this way for seven years, striving to provide members with fairly-priced bulk goods. Then, on August 5th, 1981, the buying club was incorporated as a cooperative and became the Frederick County Consumer Cooperative, Inc. The new co-op opened its first storefront in February of 1982 on Commerce Street in downtown Frederick, where they adopted the name Common Market. Owners of the co-op would take turns managing the store. The new system had plenty of positives, including a person to wait on you as well as pre-cut, wrapped cheese. Owners were required to complete a minimum of three hours of volunteer work a month at the store, though many chose to give more time. It is this hard work and dedication that sustained the co-op through leaner times.
Not quite ten years later, in 1990, the co-op moved to its second storefront at 5813 Buckeystown Pike. It was at this location the co-op opened its doors to everyone, not just store owners, and began to grow into the full-service natural foods store of today. As the number of paid staff increased, the Common Market began to provide sick and annual leave as well as health benefits to all paid staff. For the first eight years at this location, the Dairy, Bulk, and Produce departments shared a small single walk-in cooler. A signature feature of this location was the handmade cashier box, made by one of the owners, which helped to provide two checkout lanes. The store was constantly changing and growing to meet the needs of owners, and ownership numbers and sales continued to increase each year. This meant new equipment could be purchased as funds were available to ensure the store’s continued success. While the look and feel of the store continued to transition to that closely resembling a grocery store, the desks in staff offices remained recycled doors spread across filing cabinets. That is, until 2006.
In May 2006, the store moved, once again, to its current location: 5728 Buckeystown Pike. Doors opened on May 16th of that year. This store is four times larger than the previous location and offers more room for products and people, as well as a café; a juice, smoothie, and coffee bar; a meat and sustainable seafood counter; specialty cheeses; and a community room for events.
The Common Market continues to steadily grow in the number of owners—currently over 6,000!–and customers it serves, the food and services available, and in the positive interactions it has with the community.