Duck Soup Coop: 40 years accomplished


Duck Soup Coop co-manager Sue Kinsey (right) rings up food for law student Shaina Kalanges Wednesday at Duck Soup Coop, 129 E. Hillcrest Drive. Duck Soup Coop is celebrating 40 years of providing the DeKalb community with organic and locally grown food. Duck Soup Coop plans to celebrate by holding a rummage sale and a pot-luck later this month.

By Margaret Maka

Duck Soup Coop is celebrating 40 years of providing DeKalb residents with organic and locally grown food options.

The member-owned co-op, 129 E. Hillcrest Drive, will celebrate by holding a rummage sale Saturday and a members-only potluck later this month. Duck Soup Coop offers organic, vegan, kosher and gluten-free food options, as well as traditional food items including meats and produce. The co-op also gives members the opportunity to bring in homemade items.


Duck Soup Coop opened in October 1974 as a buyers club for community members who wanted to purchase natural and sustainable foods.

Once more people were interested, Duck Soup Coop members decided to open membership to the public and create a retail location. The co-op was originally on Market Street, and it moved to the corner of Hillcrest Drive and First Street in the ’90s.

As an independent store during a time of high prices for natural food, the co-op faces a unique set of challenges, said Sue Kinsey, co-manager and buyer for Duck Soup Coop.

“I think the economy in general has slowed everything down, and with the rise of online commerce, you have a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, I can get that for a dollar or two cheaper on Amazon,’” Kinsey said. “Fifteen years ago we were the only store in town that carried most of this stuff and now it’s widely available. And that’s great, actually; but, it does make it a little more challenging for us.”

Small corporations have less purchasing power in the natural foods market because they make smaller profits, said Miki Hall, Duck Soup Coop co-manager. Hall said the co-op offsets high prices by maintaining cooperative values and cooperative education.

“Our goal is not to turn a profit; in fact, it’s against the bylaws,” Kinsey said. “Our goal is to break even at the end of the day. We can really say that we’re about people, not profits.”

Going forward

Kinsey said the co-op is focusing on community-oriented initiatives such as buying locally made hygiene products.

“We’ve started focusing more on local items and putting more emphasis on the items we already carry that are local,” Kinsey said.

Duck Soup Coop held farmers markets once a month from June to October. The last market was held Friday. They also purchase from several small, local start-ups for their deli.

“We’re helping small, independent people have a market,” Hall said.

Cheryl Wieczorek, a clerk who’s worked at Duck Soup Coop for nine years, said the best part about working for the store is it’s a co-op. Wieczorek said she feels having a co-op is a necessity in DeKalb.

“As opposed to a buying club, it’s open to people who are not members,” Wieczorek said. “Here we bring things in so people can buy each item. We have a lot of personal interaction with our customers, and I think that’s something that’s very special about us.”

Duck Soup Coop will host a tasting of international foods for United Nations Day Oct. 24 and hold a sampling of easy vegan items for World Vegan Day Nov. 1.

“I think that exemplifies the continuity within our store, that we’re moving forward but embracing the history of the co-op and our lifelong commitment to our values,” Hall said.