Shannon Thomas moved from Fort Meade to Catonsville more than three years ago, and instantly fell in love with the town.

But the then-mother of two boys with special needs noticed something was missing.

In order to find the organic and natural foods she preferred to feed her family, Thomas said she had to drive 15 minutes down Interstate 95 to shop at Mom's Organic Market in Jessup.

"It's not real convenient," Thomas said. "If only there was a natural market in Catonsville."

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Instead of just wishing, Thomas, who has since added two daughters to a family that also includes husband Alex, is working to create a cooperative market in Catonsville.

A cooperative market is owned and supported by members who pay a fee and receive discounts for the products they purchase.

Thomas noted that nonmembers are also permitted to shop at the store, but don't receive the same discounts.

"Essentially, a co-op is member-operated and member-owned," she said.

Thomas admits her idea is still in its infancy.

"There's a lot of framework that needs to be set up properly," she said.

Before Thomas can even consider articles of incorporation or creating a board of directors, she said, she needs to gauge interest in the idea and get more people involved than the "few generous souls" she has already recruited.

To help measure that interest, a general meeting on the topic will be held Thursday, Aug. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Catonsville Library, 1100 Frederick Road.

"I've got a few people who are already committed to coming," Thomas said on July 7. "My goal is to really have at least 50 people show up.

"I think we're going to need 100 members to get this off the ground."

Sue Greenberg, a Chadwick resident, said a co-op is something she would be interested in.

"I think it would go over good," said Greenberg as she put grocery bags into her car outside the Safeway grocery store at 5660 Baltimore National Pike.

"I'd basically go for the fruit and some veggies," Greenberg said

A matter of necessity

Joseph Coates has shopped at co-ops in various states for most of his life and has signed up to do some graphic design work for the co-op should it start up.

Coates has lived in Catonsville for the past four years and currently shops at Trader Joe's, Giant and Mom's Organic Market.