Stephenson co-op in Aurora offers feed, seed and history

FROM LEFT, MINDY ANGLE, Territorial Manager Jeff Forstrom and Michelle Finley make up part of the team at the Stephenson Marketing Co-op in Aurora, Wis. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

AURORA, Wis. — The Stephenson Marketing Cooperative building in Aurora, Wis., used to feature more than feed and seed.

When it was the Florence County Cooperative, the store had a meat counter with a butcher. Customers could find clothes, spices and flavorings, even toothpaste.

Some area farmhouses still have “co-op” carpeting, from when the business stocked the floor covering, Stephenson employee Mindy Angle said.

Another employee, Michelle Finley, carried a dusty book to the front counter, its pages filled with neat, handwritten minutes from Florence County Co-op board meetings dating back to the 1970s.

Angle brought two items up from under the counter: imitation rum extract and whole cloves — both still in their original packaging. Angle guessed the ingredients were also from the ’70s.

THE EXTERIOR OF the Stephenson Marketing Co-op at 1109 County Road B on the west side of Aurora, Wis. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

“It still smells like cloves,” Finley said.

No one is certain when the Aurora site became part of the Stephenson Marketing Cooperative, based in Stephenson in the U.P. The group has C-Stores in Stephenson and Powers along with the feed mills in Stephenson and Aurora.

Though the co-op now is operated by Stephenson Marketing and the meat counter is gone, the co-op still sells a variety of supplies, seed — especially for birds, along with suet — and a wide range of animal feed, including dog and cat food.

The business also sells deer food plot supplies, bulk gardening seed and fertilizer, Angle said.

The location provides 100 pound tanks of propane for homes, farms and businesses. There are also gift items, such as local honey and handmade soaps.

“We do a lot of different things,” manager Jeff Forstrom said.

And though it is a challenge to keep the doors of a small business open — even one as long-term as the co-op — Forstrom said “it is worth the effort.”

“The people we do business with,” he said, “it’s more of a friendship.”