Co-op Questions with Sarah Goupell

By Taylor Dibbert

For the latest edition of Co-op Questions, I got in touch with Co-op member and Takoma Park resident Sarah Goupell.

Our exchange, which has been edited lightly, is below. 

Would you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I currently serve as Vice President of Tommy’s Pantry and have lived in Takoma Park for about 10 years. I have had careers in technical writing and marketing, as well as a two-year volunteer stint as PTA President of Piney Branch Elementary School. I am an avid knitter of socks, hats, and sweaters, and I have won the Takoma Park Farmers Market Pie Contest three times.

What year did you join the Co-op? 

I have been a member since I moved to Takoma Park in 2011. I initially walked to the Co-op with a Cargo Stroller when my kids were toddlers, so I could do my grocery shopping while they slept at naptime. If they woke up, they usually convinced me to buy those sugar-covered gummy worms from the bulk candy section.

Why did you want to become a member?

The value of a lifetime membership was too good to pass up! I have been to other co-ops where they ask for yearly membership dues. Quick mental math showed me that a monthly 10% discount would quickly cover the membership cost.

How frequently do you shop there? Do you have any favorite items or brands?

I am there at least once per week. Hands down, the King Arthur Gluten-Free Fudge Brownie Mix is my favorite product right now. They are so good that I have to make them with the windows firmly shut. Two squirrels chewed through my screen and broke into my house in an attempted brownie robbery last year.

What’s the best part about being a member of the Co-op?

I continue to be impressed by how the Co-op is able to “read the room” and respond appropriately. During the pandemic, my oldest son wrote a virtual school assignment about how the Co-op was a community hero as a result of its conversion to online purchasing and order fulfillment. I sent a copy to the staff, and it was on the bulletin board for a while. 

Most recently, I was happy to learn about how the Co-op is offering double purchasing power for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds used to buy produce. I have seen that being put into practice at the register each time I have been at the store lately. As a Co-op member, I am so proud to be a part of that effort to make fresh healthy food more accessible to all of our neighbors.

Do you think of the Co-op as something more than a grocery store?

Absolutely! I am a firm believer in supporting local foodways. Buying local gives you safe, dependable food, and the money you spend gets cycled right back into your community for a better quality of life for yourself and your neighbors. The Co-op also has a great track record of teaming up with and supporting local organizations like Tommy’s Pantry. 

Taylor Dibbert serves on TPSS Co-op’s Board of Representatives.