Petaluma Market is an essential business—today and every day.

Jim Agius’ parents opened the store in 1987 and were among the first to support COTS. That was in 1988 when, headquartered at Copperfield’s Books, a group of volunteers banded together to form the “Committee on the Shelterless.”

Jim took over the business from his parents in 2007 and kept their giving streak going. And the market’s support for COTS hasn’t flagged for over 30 years.

Jim says he values that relationship, the opportunity to help COTS help those who are struggling. And his commitment has only deepened as one of his employees, Cheese expert Marie Schmittroth, has become involved as a volunteer.

But community giving for the market doesn’t stop with COTS—not by a long shot. Look at nearly any local acknowledgments page and you’ll see Petaluma Market’s name or its logo with the friendly red rooster. There’s no cause too small—bake sales, raffles, softball leagues, Girl Scout Gold Projects. But the market also thinks big and gives generously to causes like Mentor Me; the Petaluma Educational Foundation; Petaluma Valley Hospital; our county’s fire relief funds; and Jim’s favorite, the all-ages Phoenix Theater, where he serves on the board.

There is no other place like the Phoenix in the world, Jim says. “It’s a place for people who otherwise wouldn’t have a place. It’s a place for expression, a place to develop skills or hobbies. Or just hang out. There’s great live music and there’s no alcohol involved. The primary motivation is to be open and to belong to anyone and everyone.”

Shoppers at Petaluma Market allow Jim to employ over 100 people and to support local causes.

“I think the real meaning of community is in action,” Jim says. “If you shop here, you’re making a choice to support an independent market and our employees. We support the community that supports us. It’s our responsibility to do it. This is where we live, and we love it.”

Jim credit his employees for providing the service that keeps people coming back. Especially now, calm, maturity, kindness and competence are the traits that inspire loyalty. He’s hired ten new people to deal with the increased need for sanitation and crowd management and says that he and his employees have a system that is “on lock.”

What role will local business play in recovery and community health post-COVID-19? “The short answer is that I think it will be a big one,” Jim says. “I think we’re lucky to live in an area where people care about putting money and energy into the causes that important to us. I think our downtown and our community have a better chance than most.”

Thank you, Petaluma Market. We are grateful to have your support.

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