‘This is joyous’: Food Shed Co-op opens its doors in Woodstock

Don and Lorene Henning walk into Food Shed Co-op during its grand opening in Woodstock May 15, 2024.

Scott and Kim Brix were the first owners of the Food Shed Co-op in Woodstock, which celebrated its decade-in-the-making grand opening Wednesday.

Scott Brix shared with the hundreds of attendees who came out to celebrate the occasion some details from the first brochure for the co-op, which started in 2014 as the McHenry County Food Cooperative. He noted the first brochure had set a timeline culminating in a co-op store’s opening in May 2015.

Tina Hill picks out produce at the Food Shed Co-op grand opening in Woodstock May 15, 2024.

It would end up taking nine more years for the co-op to come to fruition, but “we got the month right,” Brix said jokingly.

Before the grand opening officially kicked off, attendees listened to live music; among the tunes was the Food Shed theme song, which contains lyrics including “Let’s talk about saving our environment.”

At 9 a.m., the festivities began and included remarks from Darrin Flynn, the deputy mayor of Woodstock, and Peter Waldmann, the store’s general manager.

“This is a monumental milestone in the history of McHenry County,” Waldmann said.

At just after 9:30, the Brixes officially cut the ribbon and people began lining up outside the store for their chance to check it out.

As part of the grand opening, co-op officials dedicated the Brix Garden on the southeast side of the property in honor of the founding owners. The garden also features bricks from founding members.

Scott and Kim Brix cut the ribbon at the Food Shed Co-op grand opening in Woodstock May 15, 2024.

Diane McKenzie said her son encouraged her to sign up to be an owner. “He’s like ‘Mom, we have to do this,’ ” McKenzie said.

She was among the shoppers Wednesday, which she said was her day off. She said she was taking her time in the store and hoped to be more involved in the co-op.

Scott Brix said there are six more co-ops opening in the Chicago area in the near future, before recalling that people keep asking him when the co-op will open.

Don and Lorene Henning of Crystal Lake were the first customers inside the store.

“We’re just excited to see what it looks like,” Don Henning said.

The Hennings said they had been owners of the co-op for a few years. As a co-op, the store is owned by customer-members who purchase at least two shares for $100 each. Ownership provides perks like discounts and profit-sharing, though nonowners can shop there also.

“We just believe in this whole idea so much,” Lorene Henning said.

Jo Ann Krause was the first person to officially make a purchase at the co-op.

“This is joyous,” Krause said, adding she plans to become an owner of the co-op.

As of Friday afternoon, the co-op had just under 2,300 owners. When the doors opened Wednesday, that number had risen to 2,350 and signs inside the store’s vestibule keep tallies of how many owners the co-op has and how many local items are in the store. That total was 781 items when people arrived Wednesday.

Customers at Food Shed are encouraged to bring their own bags, but the store has paper bags available for 10 cents each, in accordance with Woodstock’s bag ordinance. The first 500 people in the store Wednesday received a free reusable Food Shed bag, employee Ryan Craig said.

Before the store opened, Waldmann asked people to “please be nice” and to “be patient with us as we continue to grow.”

Waldmann said later some employees at the store have been in the industry for 20 years and have health insurance for the first time.

“The human stories are the ones that are being missed,” Waldmann said.