Saturday, December 3, 2011

WooriCoop - Bokhyeon, Beomeo, Taejeon

In the last post, I mentioned that two new local/organic markets (man, I really need a catchier name for these places. Any ideas out there?) had opened opened up over the last month. I was wrong. It's three^^ The other two are both branches of WooriCoop (우리/Woori can mean "we," "us," or "our," depending on the circumstances), one in Beomeo and one in Bokyheon-dong.  It turns out that there's also a third in Taejon-dong which has been around for a little bit longer.  It's like whack-a-mole, except I want them all to stay. Or to proliferate, even.

(The owners were too embarrassed to pose for a picture.  On my honor, though: the grandma is super cute and friendly.)

I stopped by the Bokhyeon-dong branch, which is only about 30 seconds from my front door, to scope it out and have a chat with the owner.  The shop is run by Mrs. Kwon and her mother, who live nearby and decided to open the store so that they could have access safe and healthy food for their family, and so that they could share the same with others. Mrs. Kwon says that she enjoys spending time in the shop, chatting with patrons about the health and environmental benefits of organic and whole food. Although she's sandwiched between stores that sell conventionally-produced stuff at lower prices, she says so far she's been getting a fair amount of attention, both from people who are already head-over-heels for organic and from people who don't even know what the word means.

Perhaps it's some of the following goodies that draw people in:

Eggs from free-range, antibiotic-free chickens.  4,200W for 10, 5,800W for 15.

Milk from cows and goats fed organic, antibiotic-free feed.

Yogurt and ice cream from the same!

Chocolate bars, agave, peanut butter, and nutella...

Vegan non-meats

Banchan, for those interested in slightly more indigenous fare.

Curios about the differences between WooriCoop, iCoop, aCoop, and other stores, I asked if they knew any of the producers directly; they said they didn't, so I guess that sort of stuff is taken care of by people at other levels of the franchise. While places like The Farmer's Market and The She-Bears' Den seem to have an optimal system in place, where the store managers maintain direct relationships with producers, I suppose it's also pretty cool that even people without connections to farmers and agricultural advocacy groups can get their foot in the door by joining up with a franchise. In any case, it's better than a GS25 opening on the corner.

This sign explains what WooriCoop is all about:

"Mom, what is a Saenghyeop?"

"Officially, it means 'Sobija (consumer) Saenghwal (life) Hyeopdong (cooperation) Johap (association).'  It's called a "Coop" in English, and it means that the members join together to try to solve social problems.  One Coop in England in 1844 had great success, and since then others have been appearing in various forms around the world.

"In a Coop, everybody is the owner. Because we work together to manage the business, every additional member helps us to lower prices and share other benefits. It's also a way for us to help each other out when things get tough.  The name 'WooriCoop' captures this spirit: if you and I become We, more is possible."

A bit more noble than "HomePlus, HomePlus, the price is nice!" Right?

I also gleaned a bit more info from the quarterly newsletter and from the website. Here's my best go at translating their company intro page. I took a fair amount of license with these:

Local Produce: we only deal in organic and eco-friendly produce. 
We provide you with produce that's domestic, not imported (except in some cases where domestic options are not available.) We safely supply over 2000 varieties of products that have received organic or eco-friendly certifications.

Through Our Own PB Brand: We supply inexpensive and safe products.
We offer a wide variety of safe, inexpensive, high-quality products developed through our own PB brand.

Low Monthly Fee, Lots of Benefits to Enjoy.
Just 3,000won to sign up and 3,000 a month gets you a 3-10% discount on everything in the store.  [For the record, the Bokyheon branch doesn't charge monthly fees, and all branches will return your initial deposit should you decided to cancel your membership.]

Living Together, Creating Community: people and nature, love and help.
WooriCoop was put together by consumers and producers who love the earth and want to help neighbors in need. A portion of proceeds from sales and membership fees goes to help underprivileged children.

Stable Distribution System: three levels, rapid service.
Our integrated delivery system allows us to offer the freshest produce. From beginning to end, everything is carefully inspected and cared for, ensuring safe and trustworthy delivery.

In case those translations weren't awkward enough, please allow me to try my hand at the poem on the back of the winter newsletter.  Please note that the word play works much better in Korean, because the word "Woori" has several meanings.

Becoming a member
Of OurCoop.
Living together,
Imagining a better life.

There's something that "you" and "I" can't do alone.

"We" are not just an organic shop.
"We" have stepped up to work together on food issues,
"We" are the start of a better life, which we're making together.

If you're reading this now,
You probably started out concerned about
Your child's skin problems, adult-onset diseases,
And food safety issues that grow worse by the day.
In the middle of looking here and there for help,
You've probably thought to yourself,
"I wish I didn't have to worry about my food, too."

"You" and "I" can't solve these problems alone.
But we can if we become "We."

"We" all hope to live better.

"We" want to share our happiness with others.

"We" want to be there when you need a hand.

So "We" cut through the froth, the superfluousness
And share the benefits.

Please join us.
If we become "We,"
More is possible.

Note that there's no need to blame the people in the stores for my abhorrent translation! Stop by, tell them they're awesome, and get yourself some good grub^^

The addresses are as follows:
Bokyeon Branch 대구 북구 복현동 266-10.  Open daily 10AM-8PM.
Beomeo Branch 대구 수성구 범어동 899-11.  Hours unconfirmed.
Taejeon Branch 대구 북구 태전동 198 경북화성파크 드림와이드상가 102호.  Hours unconfirmed.

All three branches have been added to the Green Guide, but here are some plain old directions just in case.

No subway serves the Bokyheon branch; to pay a visit, walk from the KNU North Gate towards the airport.  Go straight up the hill at the 5 way intersection (복현오거리), then cross the street at the bottom of the hill and turn right; it'll take 10 minutes from the intersection.  From the KNU main gate, simply walk down the hill (away from downtown), cross one middle-sized intersection (복현사거리), pass the Yeungjin College east gate, and keep going.  15 minute walk, max.

I'm not sure yet how to get to the Taejon branch, but the Beomeo one looks to be just South of the subway station. Come out of exit 6, go straight, and turn left at the intersection before the Paris Baguette.  It'll be on your left.

Happy Shopping!


  1. Do you have a map?

  2. Ah, I didn't mention that the Green Guide itself is a map! Click on the link in the post or up at the top of the blog, then zoom in on whatever area of Daegu to see eco-friendly stores and restaurants located nearby. Or, copy the address into Googlemaps or Naver지도.

    I know that some similar stores do deliver, but I haven't asked here. I'll check up on it. You can definitely place orders through their website. Check out the Ggureomi entries if you're interested in regular deliveries.