1974-1981: The Co-op originated in Randy and Francy Williams’ house as a buying club. In cold weather the Williams’ woodstove was used to warm up the stovebulk containers of peanut butter, honey, oil, and maple syrup so members could scoop or pour out their desired amounts. The buying club thrived and grew through the countless hours of dedicated volunteers who drove to warehouses to pick up bulk goods, manned and womaned the cash (cigar) box, and believed enough in the Cooperative Principles to make it all happen.
1981-1990: The buying club was incorporated as a cooperative on August 5th, 1981, becoming the Frederick County Consumer Cooperative, Inc. In February of 1982 the Co-op’s first store front opened on Commerce Street in Downtown Frederick and it adopted the trade name of The Common Market. Co-op Owners would take turns managing the store. Some of the new perks of this site included a “live person to wait on you” (as written in the February 1982 newsletter) and pre-cut, wrapped cheese. Owners were required to complete a minimum of 3 volunteer hours per month, though many gave much more. The hard work and dedication of those early Owners sustained the Co-op through lean times.
1990-2006: The Co-op moved to its second storefront at 5813 Buckeystown Pike. It was here that The Common Market became open to everyone, not just old store owners, and began to grow into the full-service natural foods store you see today.
As the number of our paid staff continued to increase, in 1990 The Common Market began to provide sick and annual leave as well as health benefits to all of paid staff. The store was constantly changing and growing to meet the needs of our Owners. For the first eight years at this site the Dairy, Bulk, and Produce departments all shared one single tiny walk-in cooler. The Co-op’s ownership numbers and sales continued to increase each year and useful equipment was added as funds became available. A signature feature of our old store was the handmade “cashier box” made by one of our Owners that offered TWO checkout lanes. Though the look and feel of the store continued to become more like an actual grocery store, the desks in our staff offices remained recycled doors spread across filing cabinets until our move in May of 2006.
May 2006-Present: Our current location, 5728 Buckeystown Pike, opened its doors on May 16th 2006. This beautifully designed store is four times larger than our previous location and offers more room for products and people as well as a Café, Juice/Smoothie/ Coffee Bar, Meat Department & Sustainable Seafood Counter, Specialty Cheeses, and a Community Room.
The Common Market continues to steadily grow in the number of Owners and customers it serves, the food and services offered, and in positive interactions with our community. We currently have over 4,700 Owners!