Product delivery to the Ocean Beach People’s Food Store. Deborah Menkart in the truck and Jimbo Someck in the Lehigh t-shirt, both of whom have worked with the store. Early 1970s.

The cloth was contacted by former OBcean, Davis Hayden, who had been involved with OB in the 1970s, and advised that an article he had written about the history of the OB People’s Food Store (former name of People) was on Wikipedia. Davis had been instrumental in establishing the store. We checked it out and here it is, from Wikipedia:

The Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market is a food cooperative located at 4765 Voltaire Street in the community of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California.

It was previously called Ocean Beach People’s Food Store. People’s began as a retail store at 4859 rue Voltaire, selling natural foods and household products.

The current cooperative is owned by its members, but is open to the public and focuses on offering locally grown organic food.


People’s Food grew out of a food buying club operating in Ocean Beach in 1971, which was eventually located at the Ocean Beach Free School.

In August 1972, three of the buying club members – Willie Groome, Diane Miller, Davis Hayden – decided to open a store at 4859, rue Voltaire. The initial markup was 20% and designed to cover only the costs of operating the store, without paying wages or salaries. As store volume increased, the markup on essential items such as milk and eggs was reduced to 10%. After 6 months, the store was “making $11,000 a month.”

Initially, the original three people ran the store with occasional help from students from the Ocean Beach Free School which operated across the street from the store. However, as the volume of customers increased, they enlisted community volunteers who received food credit for their work.

Then other managers were added, and in 1973 the store itself expanded by moving to a larger building at 4765, rue Voltaire. In 1985, the store was transformed into a food cooperative.

Actual status

In 2002, People’s food built a new, larger store at 4765, rue Voltaire. This store was one of three San Diego stores cited by the San Diego Union Tribune as having “high marks for energy efficiency.”

In 2018, People’s was chosen to host “18 delegates from China” to learn more about America’s food quality and the “green” philosophy of the cooperative movement. Currently, the store has approximately 14,000 member-owners and is currently a member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association.

Here’s more from People’s website:

Humble beginnings

Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market began as a small neighborhood shopping club in 1971. The people who fueled its growth were activists in a grassroots movement to create alternatives to established institutions, including grocery stores.

Their dream was a store that offered healthy, non-polluting, cruelty-free food at a fair price, and a store that was owned by the community it serves.

A year later, on August 19, 1972, we set up our booming business in a storefront apartment at 4859, rue Voltaire. Customers were looking for perishables in the fridge (where else!) and adding up their own purchases for the cashier.

Our evolution

In 1973, a big step was taken: OB People’s moved down the street to a former swimming pool and dance hall. It took a lot of work just to prepare the building. Gradually, the new store filled with products and accessories. The reputation of the store is also growing. OB People’s has become known as a truly people-oriented store with a unique food selection and uncompromising quality standards. For the first fourteen years, People’s had operated as a collective of workers. Then, in 1985, workers decided that since OB People’s had always been a community store, it made sense for it to become a food co-op.

The years 2001 and 2002 found us once again remodeling. This time, however, the co-op has moved to a brand new building. We remain on the same site we have occupied since 1973, but have designed and built a new sustainable building to meet the growing needs of stores and serve as a model for conscious building. The new building was completed in the summer of 2002 and OB People’s, our own community co-op, opened a new chapter for the new millennium.

(Hats off to Davis Hayden)

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