Nonprofit aims to purchase the Shaw General Store

Submitted by the Save the Shaw Store Board of Directors

Imagine the Shaw General Store open seven days a week, year-round, managed by the Orcas Food Co-op. Imagine the store property owned by a community nonprofit organization, self-supporting through the store, the marina, and other revenue sources on the property.

This could soon be the reality if a community effort to buy the store property is successful. For more than 100 years, the Shaw Store has been a hub where folks congregate, catch up, chat, check the mail, do the laundry, buy chicken feed, or buy excellent island produce and fine local brews. Now, a freshly formed nonprofit — Save the Shaw Store ­— is raising money to purchase the property and ensure it continues on as a community benefit in perpetuity.

The organization recently negotiated a letter of agreement with the Masons, who are the current owners, and with the Orcas Food Co-op. The agreement establishes the basic terms of the purchase: The Masons will sell the store buildings, warehouse, marina, and eventually the cabin property to the east of the store to Save the Shaw Store for a good price; the Orcas Food Co-op will lease the store facilities to continue its operations for the Shaw community; the Masons will help the co-op get established in the store and will work with them on the ferry.

A similar project on Orcas provides an example of how this structure of community-ownership can be successful. In January 2020, Friends of the Olga Store Building, a non-profit, purchased the historic Olga Store Building to save the property from potential development and to house the Olga Post Office and a store. The store portion will be operated by the Orcas Food Co-op and is expected to open in its new form this spring.

Save the Shaw Store is hoping to pull off a similar success story. The Masons do want the store to remain a store, and they do want the properties to continue as an asset benefiting the Shaw community. The Masons are generously and carefully working with Save the Shaw Store to give the community this chance to make it all work.

Save the Shaw Store must gather approximately $1 million dollars in donation pledges for the downpayment on the property. There are many opportunities to get involved in this project, both by giving a financial gift to this campaign, joining the board, and by volunteering to work on this project with us through construction, outreach, and more. Visit for more info and to make a pledge and join the email list!

If you are interested in further details, contact Save the Shaw Store Board President Jennifer Swanson,; STSS Board Member Anne Wysocki,; or Orcas Food Co-op General Manager and STSS Board Member Learner Limbach,