‘People that live here’: Artist and farmer co-op to open its doors in time for the holidays

MoFaCo's will hold a grand opening on Nov. 28 at its new store location at 55 N Main Street. Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE — Step aside, Target and Walmart. St. George shoppers need to look no further for holiday gifts than the new Modern Farm and Artisan Co-op location on Main Street. 

A Farmers Market in St George, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Kat Puzey, St George News / Cedar City News

MoFaCo, as it is more commonly known, will hold its grand opening on Monday after a tumultuous year of unknowns. The non-profit supports 21 local artists and farmers by selling their products locally and bringing all the funds back into the community. 

“When you purchase something here, 100% of it stays here in this community,” said Kat Puzey, the founder of MoFaCo. “It’s not going to Walmart, it’s not going to these big, huge, nameless corporations. You are putting money in the pockets of the people that live here.”

Puzey started the co-op after working with the Downtown Farmers’ Market for three years and learning how hard it can be to try to start a business. Most of the vendors either needed a way to affordably sell their products through retail or attend more artisan shows, Puzey said, and the hope is that the co-op will provide an opportunity to do both. Puzey hopes MoFaCo will be a springboard for local businesses, establishing a single place where vendors can test their product, gain a customer base and launch themselves. 

While wholesale companies keep 70% of the profit they make off of local products, MoFaCo will keep only 15% as an administrative fee to keep its doors open, Puzey said. When the coronavirus pandemic hit Utah, local artisans and farmers lost the opportunity to show their products at places like the Farmers’ Market. 

“We just knew that if we didn’t do something, if we didn’t push through and try to open the co-op, that a lot of these businesses were gonna go under,” Puzey said. “We’re really proud of how it’s turning out.”

Faith Lazarides sells jewelry at the Downtown Farmers Market in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Opening the store had to be done on a budget, so everything inside is second-hand, Puzey said. She and her husband scavenged, sanded and made all of the wooden boxes used as display cases, and all of the shelves and the kiosk were made by a local woodworker from wood that was found outside the store. 

A week before the grand opening, the front of the store is full of handmade crafts including clothes, toys, jewelry, soap, honey and artisan dog treats. Once the co-op raises enough money, it will also hold a food room with a refrigerator and freezer. The back of the store will serve as an office space, education center and recording studio for the MoFaCo podcast, which Puzey hosts. By the end of the year, Puzey hopes the store will feature up to 45 local artisans and farmers’ products. 

The store provides more than just a showroom for the vendors. For those that normally only sell their products seasonally at the Farmers’ Market, like Steve and Connie Sutton of Dewey’s Dog Treats, a year-round set-up is a big help. For Kiersten Madsen, whose Utah-inspired jewelry is for sale at the shop, joining MoFaCo also reunited her with Puzey, who grew up on the same street she did. Madsen began selling her jewelry at the Farmers’ Market last year after a year of struggling to start her business. 

A pair of lava stone bead earrings with hand cut copper charms made by Kierstin Madsen. Photo provided by Kierstin Madsen, St. George News.

“As I set up my table, I felt at home,” Madsen said. “Handmade, hand-crafted and homemade living is an essential part of life that Kat is making readily available to our community by allowing artisans like myself the opportunity to be present in a public space.”

The Co-op also provides a space for the artists to interact with each other and their customers and to integrate themselves into the community. It’s been helpful to learn the ins and outs of running a retail space, said Lucy Duke of Lazy 3 Leather Company.

As the holidays draw near, the store is decorated with Christmas trees adorned with ceramic ornaments made by local creatives, which are also for sale. The co-op is full of creative gift ideas, including a collection of stuffed dolls made by Melissa Daams. 

“As an artist, I really like to make what I want to make,” Daams said. “The store gives me an outlet to sell all these extra creatures, dolls and little things. Not only that but I love the small business community.”

Most of her customers request custom orders, Daams said, which she said she is happy to do because she enjoys the challenge and she feels honored whenever someone likes her style enough to want something one-of-a-kind. 

The grand opening will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the new location, 55 N Main Street. The store is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Puzey also hopes that they will be able to hold the outdoor Farmers’ Market on Dec. 12 in Ancestor Square, and MoFaCo’s community garden, which started this year in Santa Clara, is available to local gardeners.

More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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