Market Tour: Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Chicago

[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

The Dill Pickle Food Co-op is a lot of things to a lot of very different people. That's especially apparent to Sharon Hoyer, the general manager of the Logan Square grocery store, who has to keep stock of all the specialized items in the store. "We get people on both sides of the food spectrum," she admits as we walked around the store. Few stores have such an extensive selection of vegan and raw food essentials, while also carrying numerous freezers full of local meat and cheeses. Looking for one of the best bulk food sections in the city and fair trade bananas? The Dill Pickle has it all.

This combination of range and intense focus could only come from a food co-op, where member-owners can directly influence what is sold in the shop. Opened in late 2009, the Dill Pickle currently has almost 1,300 member-owners, which is kind of astonishing when you consider the size of the store. (In fact, they'd like to find a larger location, but won't make the move unless they can find a suitable location less than a mile away.) To help stock and maintain the place, the Dill Pickle relies on 13 paid employees and a fleet of 40 or so volunteers.

I've actually been a member since the very beginning. But while I shop there frequently, I've never taken the time to examine every single nook and cranny of retail space. I couldn't have found a better guide than Hoyer, who has been at the store since the beginning. While the space is small, each square inch of space is utilized, and it's impressive how much is available, including so many unique items.

Check out what the Dill Pickle Food Co-op has to offer by clicking on the slideshow. If you're interested in learning more about the shop, click here for all the details you'd ever want to know.

Dill Pickle Food Co-op

3039 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)