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

Somos Mexican Food from Mexico

¡HOLA! We're SOMOS. We make real Mexican food with authentic recipes and ingredients - just like our moms made it. Authentic Mexican Food Made in Mexico and happens to be plant based. We’re a group of three friends who grew up in Mexico eating chilaquiles, cooking...

Jennies & Santa Cruz

Jennies Double Chocolate Coconut Bites, Very Vanilla Bites and Santa Cruz Organic Creamy Light Roasted Peanut Butter.

Tru Earth Eco Laundry Strips, Unscented & Fresh Linen

TRU EARTH: Finally, an eco-friendly laundry detergent, that’s as sensitive on your skin, as it is to the environment in a revolutionary new strip form. Unscented and Fresh Linen. Each laundry strip packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power...

Outstanding, Vista Hermosa & Barnana Chips

Outstanding Cheese Balls Chedda and Garlic Parmesan. Vista Hermosa Spicy Totopos and Barnana Organic Salt & Pepper Plantain Chips

Vive Organic Boosters

Who has time to eat or juice all the superfoods you need? Get all your immune boosting goodness in under five seconds. Forget powders. Fresher, faster and more fun than daily vitamins. WHAT IS PROACTIVE IMMUNITY? It’s a wellness-centered lifestyle. Take small steps...

Forager Kids Cashewmilk Yogurts

We love everything about Forager, so we wanted to bring some in for the children.

Wild Planet Tuna Salads

These Ready to Eat Tuna Salads are 100% pole & line or troll caught methods that only catch smaller migratory tuna lower in mercury. Nets are never used to catch our tuna.

Rustic Bakery

Members like Rustic Bakery Shortbread Cookies so much, we thought we’d complete the range. The Vanilla Shortbreads are new and they are just as good as the Meyer Lemon, Pecan and Chocolate. Don’t forget their Cheese Coins which are slightly spicy cheesy shortbreads.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crumble

We didn’t do this new product justice. Florence just tried it and it’s delicious. It goes with pretty much anything. See some ideas below  

Alexandre Family Farms

Alexandre Family Farms: Happy #MooMonday from the farm! We love when a herd is grazing right next to our house like in this photo - it is the perfect opportunity to sit and admire the beauty of their colors and patterns. Our crossbreed herd is a purposeful blend of...

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