By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Aug. 17 — On Friday, local officials and community members gathered at the Page Cooperative Farm Bureau to celebrate “100 years of helping the community grow.”
A banner with those words hung over the Co-Op’s entrance as the crowd gathered underneath for a ribbon cutting hosted by the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a pleasure and a joy to be here celebrating an institution in Page County,” Chris Jenkins, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors, told the crowd on Friday. “There’s a reason they’ve been here 100 years…they care.”
The two-day celebration included door prizes, photo ops, special coupons, on-site food vendors and live bluegrass music.
“One hundred years is a great achievement for any business,” Luray Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said.
The mayor recalled memories of the former Co-Op location, one in which groceries were offered in the “middle section”, including “a big hunk of cheese” and chairs scattered around where local farmers gathered sometimes for lunch. Dofflemyer also noted the Co-Op’s decision to lease its former location on Virginia Avenue to the Hawksbill Trading Co., a collective of local producers of various products and crafts.
“Leasing that building to Hawksbill Trading for a great rate has helped so many,” the mayor said. “We appreciate you being here and your investment in the community…including donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity.”
The Co-Op is well known for its support of such non-profit organizations as the Page County 4-H and FFA chapters, the Page Valley Fair, the Page County Technical Center and many more. The store moved from the Virginia Avenue site it had occupied since the 1930s to its new location off Big Oak Road along Route 211 in 2003.
“While it’s still a ‘new’ building, it has a throwback feel,” Dofflemyer said of the store’s current location. “Thank you for your involvement in the community, and here’s to another 100 years.”
This Friday, the local farmer’s cooperative will officially mark the 100th anniversary of its first meeting held on Aug. 20, 1921. The idea behind the cooperative was to lower prices by consolidating the buying power of local farmers.
The agricultural cooperative is owned by its farmer members, who share the profits through dividends. Those who are not farmers can still be a “participating non-member” of the cooperative by simply filling out some paperwork — there is no fee.
The agricultural supply and home improvement store sells a wide variety of items under those headings, in addition to cutting wire, glass, pipe or keys for customers; custom grinding feed; marketing local produce; and delivery service.
“One hundred years ago, a couple of farmers got together because they didn’t have a great place to buy stuff,” Darrell Hulver, manager of the Page Co-Op for the last 33 years, told the crowd at the ribbon cutting.
“The credit goes to the community,” Hulver continued, “without the community, the Co-Op would be nothing. I hope the next 100 years we can keep that focus.”
After surpassing $2 million in sales in August 1984, Page Co-Op weathered the COVID-19 pandemic well as home improvement projects soared over the last year and the Co-Op recorded $6 million in sales as of this August. The Co-Op currently employs 34.
“I won’t make the next 100,” Hulver told Friday’s crowd gathered in front of the store, “but we hope your kids and grandkids will still be coming here for the things they need.”
Only one question, posed by the mayor, was asked of the longtime Co-Op manager during the ribbon cutting.
“Darrell, can we bring back the big block of cheese?”
Page Co-Op Historial Timeline
Aug. 20, 1921
First meeting held to organize.
Rented Bailey warehouse, purchased in 1930 for $3,125.
Officially incorporated in Virginia.
Built 15’x20′ service station and 40’x70′ warehouse, which housed feed and grocery at a cost of $41,882.
Moved into brick building at Virginia Avenue site.
New mill addition completed.
Sales exceed $2 million.
Computer point of sale and credit card machines added.
Addition to service station, rental added in 1999.
New store completed along Route 211.
Greenhouse added to “new” store.
Sales exceed $6 million.