Ideal Township's Ideal Market has been around for decades, but has changed hands and atmosphere a number of times along the way.
Now, the store becomes the Ideal Green Market and, with the help of distributor Azure Standard, strives to become a health food co-op.
Thursday, Aug. 21, the inaugural Taste of Ideal was held at the store to allow residents to sample products from Azure, an Oregon-based company dedicated to providing natural, healthy foods to those who want it.
"Their mission is to get good foods to as many people as they can, within reason," said Mary Plein, steering committee member and Azure drop coordinator. "They understand the whole fuel footprint about trucking, but by the same token they have organized these drops, and we are one drop of three in the area."
Azure already has "drop" locations — where product is delivered for residents — in Crosslake and Pequot Lakes, but residents around the Ideal Green Market who are familiar with the company wanted a drop site a little closer to home.
Locals also would like to see the decades-old shop continue to be a part of the community.
"Residents may remember it as the small store with the bait shop attached," Plein said. "Everybody used this location as a stop along the way, but more importantly, it seemed to be a gathering place for residents. People miss that community place to come and gather."
During the Aug. 21 gathering, roughly 50 people arrived to sample products, chat with others and have any of their questions answered. Plein also expressed hope that the Taste of Ideal will convince others to get involved in the store's attempt to earn a business license.
"This was a way to get people in the door to see the potential," Plein said. "We are trying to get a steering committee before we can be a co-op, then we need officers in order to write bylaws in order to apply for a Minnesota business license in order to make transactions."
The plan is to host the Taste of Ideal every year in late August, just before harvest so store-goers can get a sense of what will be available, and the people who grow the food can get to know their customers.
Plein said those involved in hosting the Taste of Ideal were expecting roughly 50 people to attend, given the positive response they received in the days leading up to the event.
"People have been coming to the front door while we have been working, so I know the curiosity and enthusiasm is there," Plein said. "We had no idea what to expect tonight. You can't beat word of mouth. Everybody has been telling their friends and neighbors."
Plein hopes the Ideal Green Market will become well-known throughout the area to benefit the people who live there.
"I know it doesn't seem that tangible, but (the most important thing about the store) is that sense of community," Plein said. "More people are becoming aware of the importance of eating healthy, and there is somewhat limited access to that. That whole combination (of community and healthy food) will help the community become stronger and more connected."