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Marquette Food Co-op hosts first Co-op Sweep competition

The Marquette Food Co-op crowned the Queen of Groceries, Katie LeClair, Tuesday afternoon. LeClair won the store's first ever Co-op Sweep contest, taking home $211 worth of groceries and the bonus item, a co-op cooking class certificate. (Courtesy photo from Kelsie Dewar)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Food Co-op hosted its first ever Co-op Sweep competition at its Washington Street storefront this week.

Contestants Katie LeClair and Nathan Mapes cruised the aisles for two minutes Tuesday afternoon searching for items to fill their carts that totaled as close to $250 as they could get, without going over.

LeClair was closest at $211 and won the items in her cart. She also received a free cooking class certificate after finding a bonus that was handled by a co-op employee dressed in a banana suit who shifted between aisles as the contestants were on the hunt.

Mapes was given a $50 gift certificate for participating and making it through the first three rounds alongside LeClair.

During the first round of the Co-op Sweep, hidden entry tickets were placed throughout the store the first week of October. Both of the contestants said they came across their tickets accidentally.

“I was just grabbing beer out of the cooler and found one of the tickets,” Mapes said.

LeClair, who lives close to the co-op and shops there regularly, said she found her ticket when she wasn’t looking for one.

“I also found my ticket by accident,” she said. “I was looking for one initially, but when I wasn’t searching for one and just shopping, I found one.”

The second round consisted of a 15-question multiple choice co-op trivia quiz that tested participants’ knowledge of the co-op and the cooperative business model. Both contestants agreed it was the most difficult round.

“The quiz was ridiculous,” Mapes said. LeClair said it was “definitely a shot in the dark” since there were several “difficult” technical and historical questions.

In the third round, Mapes and LeClair received the fastest times in a co-op scavenger hunt, which sent them out into the store with clues leading to specific products.

Kelsie Dewar, publicity coordinator at the co-op, said the competition began with around 40 people and dwindled down to two.

“We tried to make this last round a little difficult,” said Dewar. “They had to get one item from each department and they couldn’t get duplicate items.”

The competition was a play on the 1960s game show “Supermarket Sweep” and is one of many activities planned throughout “Co-op Month,” a nationwide celebration of the cooperative business model.

“We have an outreach meeting every week and it was one of those crazy ideas where we didn’t think it would happen, but here we are,” Dewar said. “We’ve had a lot of fun activities this month.”

Over the last several weeks, the co-op has hosted presentations and has had free samples and discounts, among other things.

“We also did a huge thing with (Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter) a couple weeks ago where we sponsored the adoption of a pet and had a bunch of raffles,” Dewar said. “We’ve been having raffles every week.”

The MFC recently launched its Owner Rewards Program and has been spending the month talking to folks interested in becoming owners.

“To become an owner, all you have to do is come into the store and talk with any one of our employees and we’ll help you out,” Dewar said.

Those interested in becoming a part-owner of the local co-op have two options.

“You can pay $150 all at once for a life-time equity,” Dewar said. “Then, there’s another option where you can pay $5 down when you sign up and then when you come in and shop it charges you $2 every time until you reach that $150.”

Anyone who signs up to become an owner in October receives a $10 gift card if they pay the full fee. Owners who refer friends also receive gift cards.

Marquette Food Co-op owners receive special discounted prices on items at the store and cooking classes annually and can order items in bulk, among other things.

To see a full listing of Co-op Month events or learn more, visit marquettefood.coop

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.

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