Our History

If the Yelm Food Cooperative were a children’s story, it would probably be The Little Engine That Could.  This, after all, is an organization that opened in 2007 – with just $26,000. “That’s a very small amount to start any retail, let alone a grocery store that has a lot of inventory and equipment,” say current General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. “Most will start with ten times that amount before they get a brick and mortar location.”

“We were insane,”

Manager Debbie Burgan puts it more bluntly: “We were insane,” she says. “I was sent to three different seminars to find out what you needed to start a co-op. Every single one said you needed a minimum of $1 million.”

It all started in 2005 with Laura Losada, a Yelm resident who had a vision of a local store with organic, natural and local ingredients. Others believed in her vision and soon, according to volunteer Robyn Hawk, “A very small handful of people somehow got another small handful of people to get a fair amount of money so that they could start this co-op.” Everyone involved volunteered hundreds of hours, raising money, learning about the ins and outs of running a co-op and applying for grants. In addition, several members of the leadership team at the Olympia Co-op contributed guidance and expertise for nearly a year.

The store opened its doors in April, 2007 in a small commercial building in Yelm’s Frontier Village, where anyone attempting to navigate an aisle would literally rub elbows with someone coming the opposite direction.  “It was important to open a storefront in order to begin building a history and reputation within this community,” says Rintz.

But in 2012, the store moved to its current – and much larger – location at 308 Yelm Ave., which it shares with local landmark Gordon’s Garden Center. “Moving here was really important,” says Manager Jutta Dewell, who has been with the store since its inception. “This location is much better equipped to handle a higher volume of sales, in terms of space and atmosphere.”

Originally, the co-op was a member-owned corporation. In 2012, the board of directors asked the membership to vote on becoming a non-profit community service organization with a focus on education and food. The idea was a hit; 96% of the members who voted favored the new vision.

As they’ve grown, the co-op staff have surveyed its customers, analyzed buying patterns, and adjusted accordingly. “We offer products that are hard to find in the Yelm area,” says Rintz, “non-GMO, organic, and local items. Our success has proven that the demand from the consumer is large enough to support the store.”

However,  there were still more challenges for the store.  After 4 1/2 years as a non-profit under the Yelm Cooperative umbrella, the IRS made a determination that Yelm Food Co-op was in fact a for-profit company and would have to be separated from Yelm Cooperative\Yelm Farmers’ Market operating as non-profit.  This was an unexpected upset for all.  Yelm Cooperative, the parent company decided to change their name to Bounty For Families and along with the Yelm Farmers’ Market as their subsidiary and go their “non-profit” way.  

On January 1, 2017, Yelm Food Cooperative went back to its original equity based company status.  The original equity members who had paid equity up until 2012, before the company went non-profit, were re-established as equity members and we began accepting equity memberships again.  

We continue to operate as an organic and natural food market offering our customers and members the best quality we can.

Supporting Our Local Producers

Power outage in Yelm

We’ve had a power outage in Yelm which, as far as we know, has affected us, the traffic lights plus others between those two points. Please call the Coop of you are planning on shopping today Sunday in case the store is still closed. Call to check 360-400-2210

Creminelli sliced smoked meats

Wow, these are all delicious. Creminelli Sopressa, Trio Tray of Finocchiona, Prosciutto & Varsi, Prosciutto and not shown Pepperoni. It’s a great brand.

Echo Falls Coho Salmon

Always on the search for more ways to eat healthy salmon, these smoked salmon from Echo Falls are delicious. Original and Cracked Pepper, give them a try.

Smoked Sliced Wild Alaskan Salmon

This is a premium Smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon that is pre-sliced and ready to eat from Blue Hill Bay.

Garden of Life Raw Vitamin C

This is a member request for Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin C. 500mg Whole Food Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids Immune System Support Healthy Heart Healthy Skin and Eyes Live Probiotics and Enzymes Support Healthy Digestion

YumEarth Candy Canes & Candy Cane Pops

Here are the YumEarth Organic Candy Canes and Candy Cane Pops

Applegate Breakfast Sausages

We know members love Applegate’s Breakfast Sausages. Along with the Classic Pork we thought we’d give their Chicken & Maple a try.

Kalona Organic Eggnog

Kalona Super Natural Organic Eggnog from grassfed cows.

Kinnikinnick Vanilla Wafers

Member request Kinnikinnick Vanilla Wafers, and they happen to be gluten-free.

Rice Medley from Bibigo

Deliciously soft Rice Medley from Bibigo. A Brown and Jasmine mix.

Please follow the COVID-19 policies in the store. Learn more on our COVID-19 page.