Local Cooperatives


Cooperatives in Our Community Today

Hands Gallery
Hands Gallery is a local producer cooperative, that resides right in the heart of downtown Boone, at 543 West King Street. Started in 1975 by a small group of local artists, the store continues today, owned and operated by the new and old artists that call Boone home. Costs and in store obligations are shared among the members so that everyone has a platform to sell their goods, while keeping costs and time in the store low. Hands Gallery embraces the continually changing atmosphere of their store as new artists come and go. This has helped to create a unique and varied experience for the artists and customers. In addition to this, Hands Gallery promotes the idea that a co-op can be more than a means to a financial end.

“Hands Gallery has provided a place for support and sharing between artists, creating not only a partnership in developing a business, but the basis for many long-term friendships. The variety of work and personalities have always made Hands Gallery an interesting and rich experience for members as well as visitors.” (handsgallery.org)

Just this year, hands celebrated their 40th anniversy showing that cooperation can produce an economy that lasts.  Click to read the full write up by the Watauga Democrat.

Historic Cooperatives

Carolina Mountain Co-operatives

1930s Cannery

In July of 1934, Carolina Mountain Co-operatives began operation of a cannery in Cranberry, NC, Avery County, a way of helping out farmers during the Great Depression, when prices for crops were very low.

According to the August 16, 1934 Watauga Democrat “Various Kinds of Berries and Garden Sass Being Bought at Cranberry for Cash. Blackberry Prices are on Upgrade, and Huckleberries Bring 30 Cents. Turnip Greens Are Now Growing Under New Program.” “Prices being paid are advancing, especially as regards blackberries, which have been bought in huge quantities from pickers in Watauga County.”


Adapted from Ross Cooper, “A Look Back: TVA Cannery Is Running Full Blast,” Watauga Democrat, August 24, 2014.

Green Eagle Rural Community Transportation Co-op

What is now known as the AppalCART came from a transportation cooperative dating from the 1960s and 70s. Archie Pierce, then Director of WAMY Community Action in Watauga County, helped organize a bus to get people into town for shopping and appointments, when many didn’t have another form of transportation.

“Everybody knew, ‘Hey here comes Big Sam up and down the holler. It’s our day to go get our commodity foods, our day to go to the doctor, or something like that, because Big Sam is coming,'” Pierce said. “I don’t know where we come up with the name Big Sam, but that was somebody’s idea and we put it on the side of the bus.”

H.C. Moretz, executive director of WAMY at the time, reports that “[The Office of Economic Opportunity] finally gave us an additional $6,000 to start a rural transportation system, which wasn’t much, but it was a beginning,” Moretz said. “And that’s where Green Eagle Transportation Co-op began. We set that up as a co-op so that the people would own it.”

“I heard the stories of Green Eagle,” AppalCART Director Chris Turner said. “In fact, the bus they got to run the Green Eagle became part of the AppalCART fleet. It was an activity-style bus. Had a four speed manual transmission.”

Adapted from Makenzie Holland, “Green Eagle,” Watauga Democrat June 22, 2014.


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