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

Pine Nuts & Pesto Recipe

These Organic Pine nuts from Woodstock come in a resealable pouch. Refrigerate after opening. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13937/pesto/    

Organic Valley Egg Bites

Organic Valley Egg Bites are the only organic egg bites on the market, and they are delicious and also happen to be on special this month. A perfect time to give them a try. Uncured Ham & Swiss; Perfectly cooked, fluffy and tender bites of eggs mixed with uncured...

Almond flour Fettuccine

All the dente. None of the grains. “Worth every penny”. Our almond flour fettuccine isn’t like traditional pasta. The texture is silkier. The taste is butterier. Which doesn’t sound like a word but is. It cooks in 90 seconds or less. It speaks your name when you twirl...

Cypress Grove Fresh Goat Cream Cheese

Cypress Grove ‘Straight Up’ is fresh goat cheese, plain and simple. It’s just like cream cheese. Our Straight Up fresh goat cheese is soft and pillowy with a subtle tang and lightly salted finish. Starting with perfectly cultured milk, our fresh goat cheese cups...

Ferndale Farmstead Mozzarella

Unlike most, this is real tasty Mozzarella. Within the heart of the Pacific Northwest, in Washington state, three generations of the Wavrin family are proud to present artisan cheese crafted in the Italian tradition. This happens on our farm in Ferndale. We use only...

Goat Milk Ghee

Goat Milk Ghee Ghee is clarified butter from pastured, grass-fed goats. Contains the essential fatty acid known as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). Mt. Capra grass-fed goat milk ghee is high in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). Use it to boost the beneficial fatty...

Carob Powder & Chocolate Syrup

Customer request. Missy J’s Organic Carob Powder from Sweet Aussie. NuNaturals Pourable Chocolate Syrup with Stevia.

Alaffia, Soothing Touch

Soothing Touch Lip Balms. Vanilla Chia and Coconut Lime. Alaffia Neem Turmeric Charcoal Deodorant

La Colombe Coffee

Triple Shot, Mocha and Oatmilk: The full taste and texture of a true cold latte, complete with a frothy layer of silky foam - now with more coffee! Triple Draft Latte is made with whole, real ingredients like nutrient-rich milk and 3 shots of cold-pressed espresso....

Proud Source Sparkling Water

An addition to our Proud Source range of Still Water, here is their Sparkling Water line. Like their Still Water, it’s fresh tasting and in lightweight reusable bottles.

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.