Manna Food Co-Op plans move to Norby Flats downtown

MANNA Food Co-op board members opened up a discussion at the annual meeting in January about a possible move to Norby Flats. members unanimously approved of the move; they hope to change locations in late spring.

Manna Food Co-op is located right off Highway 34, right before Cenex. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

Soon, residents at Norby Flats won't have to even leave the building to get their groceries. Manna Food Co-op plans to move into one of the spaces in the coming months.

"This has actually been a deliberative process the co-op has been working on for three months now," said Ryan Pesch, the co-op's treasurer.

Pesch explained that co-op board members have been looking at different locations they could move to increase both their visibility and profitability. At their current location on Highway 34, most of their shoppers make the trip out to the co-op from across town, he said.

"It's never happened where somebody's at Food and Fuel, looks over and says 'Yeah, I could go for a couple of organic avocados right now,'" Pesch said with a laugh.

The new location at Norby Flats may change that, as it's a "stark contrast with our current location," Pesch said. It will be much more visible, both in terms of location and the actual look of the building.


"We're going to take it up a notch," Pesch said. "Two notches."

Ryan Pesch, the treasurer for Manna Food Co-op, said that they plan to move into the second space down from the DL Bike Shop. This space is larger than its current one on Highway 34 and has large windows facing Washington Ave. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

Grocery store vs. co-op

At Manna Food Co-op, products are local, organic and natural. This past year, Pesch believed that they worked with almost 50 local producers. On top of that, "about 25% of all of our sales went to producers within 60 miles of Detroit Lakes," he said.

"Some of the things that are in the store right now are salmon from Fergus Falls ... Lakeside soaps, they're out of Audubon ... we carry pottery from Ogema," Pesch said. "We always carry in-season, local and organic produce ... We have a grass-fed beef producer from Earhart."

Members of the co-op help decide what products they carry there. These members pay a fee and become shareholders in the business, receiving part of the profits, special discounts, get to voice their thoughts and opinions about the future of the business and more.

"The co-op is an organization that links together a whole bunch of people that want to make a greater good," Pesch said, explaining that this is one of the things that sets them apart from other grocery stores. "It is about a community effort."

A unanimous decision

About 50 of the Manna Food Co-op members came to the annual meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29, to discuss the possible move. Their thoughts were positive.


"Overall, everybody was like 'Hey, I'm a little concerned about parking, but let's go,'" Pesch said. "We heard a consensus. Yep, members are supportive, and yes, the board is moving forward with the plan to move to Norby's flats."

Ryan Pesch, treasurer and a founding board member of Manna Food Co-op, left, and store manager Lisa Skarie hold bags of wild rice flour used for native pancakes. The co-op is working with White Earth to put out traditional native meal kits this fall. (Nathan Bowe / Tribune)

The first step is signing a nonbinding buyer's intent agreement, quickly followed by organizing fundraising efforts. They will need more store supplies, equipment and products as the new space is about 500 square feet larger than their current space, plus it has a separate storage area. The move alone also requires monetary assistance.

"It's going to take us a little time to organize the effort for a capital campaign," Pesch said, adding that he has already reached out to a few people about joining a fundraising committee. "In an ideal world, we do fundraising in March and April ... That would give us some time, hopefully late spring, that we can actually fill up the space."

The more funds they can raise, the better, as then they can pay down some of the existing debt the co-op has, Pesch said. He believes the campaign will be successful as their members are already excited about the move and the improvements they have coming.

Get involved

To join the fundraising committee, contact Ryan Pesch (218-770-4398) or any other board member, go on the Manna Food Co-op website, or stop into the store.

Where: Manna Food Co-Op, 105 Barbara Ave.


When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Phone: 218-844-4211

Online: or

"A number of our most loyal customers do live east of town," said Ryan Pesch, the treasurer for MANNA Food Co-op. "We hope and we have every indication that most of the people that are loyal customers will remain loyal customers (when we move)." (Desiree Bauer / Tribune) (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

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