The Good Tern Co-op Natural Foods Store, at 750 Main St., turns 40 this year, and Board Chair Jess Mazur understands the importance of this moment.

“The Good Tern is an institution on Main Street in Rockland for our midcoast community,” said Mazur, “I am humbled by the work done before us by the staff, working members and board members to ensure the Good Tern is a fiscally viable cooperative food store that also serves the community.” Looking forward, she says, “At this time, the board is seeking new members to continue this tradition into the future.”

A big celebration was in the works to mark the anniversary of the Good Tern, which, as their motto says, is “cooperatively owned since 1980.” But the coronavirus pandemic forced a cancellation of those plans. Instead, the Good Tern will celebrate in smaller ways throughout the fall.

The Good Tern is part of a long history of cooperative food stores that serve its members and surrounding communities. According to historians, the modern cooperative movement started in 1844 when a group of textile workers in Britain pooled their money and opened a small store to sell staples such as oatmeal, sugar, butter and flour.

Workers were desperate, having lost their jobs because of a weavers’ strike and needing to guarantee their food sources and maintain their independence from industry and government control.

Mazur stressed the importance of the Board of the Good Tern Co-op in upholding the six cooperative principles to which all cooperatives throughout the world adhere: “self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.”

A resident of Rockport with her husband and two children, Mazur became involved in operations of the Good Tern as a working member. She was elected by the members to the Board of Directors in 2015, serving as Chair for the past year. She was particularly attracted to the principles of cooperatives embodied by the Good Tern.

“Cooperatives are member-owned and member-controlled businesses. Unlike other grocery stores, the Good Tern serves its members and the whole community, not the interests of one corporate owner or investor. We work with other cooperative businesses to support them, through our buying power.”

The Good Tern also supports local non-profit businesses through its Round Up at the Register program. Each month, customers have the option to round up their total bill to donate the difference to a designated non-profit. The Good Tern has donated over $40,000 through the program since its inception.

In seeking new board members, Mazur emphasized many of the benefits of participation, including helping to guide the future of the Good Tern while shaping and supporting the local food system.

“I love the fact that we support local food producers and bring fresher, more nutritious food to our community. We hope to expand the store in the future to be able to serve more people and buy more local products. This is a win-win for our region.” New board members will work on shaping the expansion plans, including the soon to launch capital campaign to fund the efforts.

New board members will join a “great blend of people, in a nice working environment,” according to Mazur.

“The board represents the members,” she notes, “so we have to think about what the members collectively want our Co-op to be.” Mazur encourages anyone who cares about food security and quality to explore the Good Tern Co-op and consider joining the board. “Together we will be building the foundation for the next 40 years of the Good Tern and the community it serves. It’s a big responsibility and it is tremendously rewarding.”

All are welcome to shop at the Good Tern, which now offers in-store as well as curbside shopping options. For more information, visit goodtern.com or call 594-8822.