Big Hollow Food Coop is a well-oiled machine. To keep a store like ours running smoothly, it takes managing lots of moving parts. Customers can walk in, be greeted by friendly faces, bump into a friend or two, pick up speciality items, stock up on local produce, and get back home without a hitch. That’s a beautiful thing! Behind every amazing shopping experience is a team of people working diligently behind the scenes coordinating the everyday nuts and bolts.
Jeff Hubbell, our assistant manager, is one of those people. You’ll see him all over the store stocking shelves, checking produce, helping customers, guiding field trips, and communicating with producers and yet never seems too busy to stop to offer a high five, hand shake, or friendly conversation with those shuffling in and out of the store. Talk about an unsung hero. How did we get so lucky?
Jeff was raised in Laramie and received his Bachelors in Art from UW. As a way to share art and expression with everyone, Jeff and his now wife, Lindsay, started 105 Degrees West, a screen printing company that prints both his art as well as helps bring other businesses artistic ideas to life and onto t-shirts. As fate would have it, Jeff’s love of art, traveling, and community would be the culmination that makes him a perfect fit for helping to manage Big Hollow.
After graduating from UW in 2008, Jeff and Lindsay traveled to Ecuador to teach English. Upon arrival, they discovered the institute they had planned on applying at had closed down a couple weeks earlier. Instead of packing their bags and heading home, they decided to just keep traveling. For six months they traveled through South America and it was there that Jeff developed a love for farms, vineyards, cooking, and visiting small markets.
“I would buy my carrots from one woman and celery from the woman right next to her, even though they both sold carrots and celery. I loved creating relationships with each of them and would come back to the same vendors everyday”, Jeff recalls with a reminiscent smile.
As we know, all good things must come to an end. After their travel funds diminished, Jeff and Lindsay returned home with a renewed interest in local foods, farming, and art. They reintegrated back into the Laramie community and began to participate in local events. At one particular local foods event he bumped into Marla, our general manager, and was offered a job on the spot.
Jeff started out as a stocker in April of 2010 working six hours a week. Eventually his roles shape shifted as both his interest and excitement for the work and Big Hollow grew. He has been assistant manager for two years now.
When you ask Jeff what he does at the Coop, his canny response is, “I put out fires or build firewalls”. In less poetic terms, this means he spends most of his time managing products, distributors, and employees. And, when asked what he loves most about working at Big Hollow, his enthusiastic and sincere reply is, “I love the role Big Hollow plays in the community, I am proud of the food and products we offer, and enjoy working and collaborating with producers and distributors.”
Jeff is an integral asset to both Big Hollow and the community as a whole. When he says he wants art to be available to everyone, he means it. In partnership with The Laramie Mural Project he designed and painted The Prairie Dog Town mural in the alley behind Atmosphere Mountainworks and helped contribute to the Gill Street Mural behind Altitude. When he says he appreciates local food, he means it. You can find him working tirelessly at Big Hollow to keep the store alive and thriving.
Behind every decent business is a good manager, but behind Big Hollow Food Co-op is Jeff and Marla, and that’s what makes our store extraordinary!