The first organic food store to open in the Bridge City is now celebrating 40 years by giving members the chance to become more involved with its day-to-day operations.

Steep Hill Food Co-op is exchanging discounts on items for general help around the store, like packaging products and stocking shelves.

Store manager Gerry Yakimoski was one of the original 12 people to open the store four decades ago. For her, this is about more than discounted prices. It’s about community.

“When you feel you’re part of something, you’re more likely to go with it and enjoy it as something that you are able to participate in,” she said.

Back when Steep Hill Food Co-op first opened its doors, eating organic was not top-of-mind.

“We were the first kids on the block. We were about organic, which 40 years ago was hardly even mentioned,” said Yakimoski.

“We had no idea what we were doing. We just knew we had a good idea and went with it.”

Some customers appreciate the store’s long-standing dedication to the organic food community. Tina Bertoncini said she has been shopping at Steep Hill Food Co-op for more than 15 years.

“For me, what is important is the relationship with the place and with the people that make a place happen,” she said.