Leandra Nichola, Community Engagement Manager
Writing on the first Thursday in 25 weeks that will we not have a Thursdays @ The Co-op event is slightly surreal. The weekly community gathering has become a part of the store’s rhythm. Staff eagerly asking which food truck to expect, community members inquiring about which musician will be playing, and, of course, the hustle of setting up and taking down tents and tables have all become weekly staples. In the quiet of today, I want to share some reflections from this series.
First, a few numbers. Twenty-five weeks of Thursdays. Thirty-three musicians (plus, the very impressive Polyphony Marimba crew). Sixteen community organizations. Five different food trucks, plus Bete Ethiopian Cuisine. Twenty-five beer and wine tastings. Twelve food demos. Hundreds of neighbors, including new and long-time Co-op shoppers.
The primary goal for offering this weekly concert was to remind Takoma Park that we are more than a natural foods store – that the Co-op is a place for community connection. Regular shoppers know this, as they bump into neighbors, co-workers, and friends in the store. But, for folks who don’t shop here or who only pop in in a pinch, we especially wanted to reach out. We’re owned by our community members and part of our mission is to be a community resource. Thursdays @ The Co-op was intended to bring a little extra fun to the neighborhood. And, that’s just what it did.
But, the series did more than that. It sparked something at the Co-op. Other groups have reached out about hosting their events on the lot (most notably, the Old Takoma Business Association’s Art & Wine Hop took place in April and the City’s Success Fair took place in May). With the addition of free Wi-Fi in the parking lot and few extra picnic tables, more folks are grabbing a meal or a treat and spending time outside the Co-op. It’s also inspired us to use the lot for more than parking. Next month, we’re transforming our fall owner meeting into a community celebration, with music, food, and family fun.
Watch for all kinds of new life and activity at the Junction! Thursdays @ The Co-op was just the beginning.
Here are some highlights from Thursdays @ The Co-op: