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

3 Ingredient Paleo Naan (Indian Bread) Recipe

https://www.yummly.com/recipe/3-Ingredient-Paleo-Naan-_Indian-bread_-2121640#directions Ingredients US|METRIC 4 SERVINGS 1/2 cup almond flour 1/2 cup tapioca flour (or Arrowroot flour) 1 cup organic coconut milk (canned and full fat) salt ghee (Grassfed Organic,...

Theo & Chocolove

With Valentines coming, it’s time to share the love. Our wonderful chocolate brands, Chocolove and Theo have loving choices for us. And they’re on Member Special this month, so get them early.

Lake Champlain Chocolates

Lake Champlain is our newest Organic brand of Valentine chocolates. They are delicious.

Valentine Gifts

Wonderful Special Valentine’s gift includes vase, teddy bear, rose shaped soap and heart shaped ring.

Perky Jerky Chicken Breast Crisps

Perky Jerky Chicken Breast Crisps: The Open Sesame is pretty spicy, while The Works is like bagel flavoring. THIN AND CRISPY: These delightful crisps are thin and of course crispy, but don't let that fool you. Packed with flavor, they will satisfy any craving PALEO...

Tortellini

Three Cheese Tortellini: Our authentic Italian recipe begins with delicate egg pasta made from only the finest quality durum wheat semolina. We carefully fold our pasta around a savor, nutty blend of fine Italian cheeses, then pinch them into small rings to form one...

Soaps & Shampoo Soaps

Everyone loved the products from Fox Island so we decided to bring in some of their soaps and hair shampoo bars.

Doodle Buns Bakery

Naturally Gluten Free Cupcakes and scones from Doodle Buns Bakery in Yelm.

January Specials

A few of this months specials. Check them out and save some money.

Resveratrol

Florence has done some of these trainings but she isn't in the store all the time, so can't answer questions. Check out this short video. Check out this video to hear Terry Lemerond discuss Clinical OPC, made with unique French Grape Seed extract VX1 that contains...

New COVID-19 Requirements in effect!
Pursuant to Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-25.8, Stay Safe-Stay Healthy, these requirements are effective November 16, 2020
Click Here to see how this impacts our in store shopping.