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

Alexandre larger size Organic A2/A2 Milk & Chocolate Milk

Members who really appreciate the combination of Alexandre’s Organic and A2/A2 milk and cream have been asking for larger size bottles, so here is their 28oz Chocolate Milk and their 48oz 6% Milk. Coming Soon: their delicious Eggnog and watch out for their new Organic...

TruEarth Organic New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls

Members love our Tru Earth Eco Laundry Strips so we thought we’d bring in their Wool Dryer Balls. *Set of 4 Original Tru Earth 100% Premium Organic New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls (no fillers) *Softens Laundry Naturally - Made with 100% sheep wool. No Chemicals or...

Aleia’s Gluten-Free delicious Almond Horns and Gluten-Free Savory Stuffing.

Aleia’s Gluten-Free delicious Almond Horns and perfect for the holidays Savory Stuffing.

October Special: Mina Moroccan Tangine Sauces

On Member Special this Month. A taste of Morocco, Mina Tangine Sauces for Chicken or Lamb, Preserved Lemons and Harissa. Time to wake up your winter palate.

Collagen Day Cream, Collagen Night Creme, Flaxseed Oil & Organic Neem Oil

Here are some more member requests. One for Collagen Skin Care, so we have a Collagen Day Cream from Insta Natural and Collagen Night Creme from Reviva Labs. Another for Flaxseed Oil Cold-Pressed capsules from Zhou and Organic Neem oil choices from Neem Aura and Uncle...

Hail Merry Meyer Lemon Cups; Tate’s Coconut Crisp Cookies; Angies Boom Chicka Pop Chocolate Drizzled Kettle Corn.

Here are some tasty new choices. Hail Merry Meyer Lemon Citrus Cups; Tate’s Coconut Crisp Cookies, uniquely crisp, deeply delicious; Angies Boom Chicka Pop Dark Chocolate Flavored Drizzed Sea Salt Kettle Corn.

Dr. Goodpet Flea Relief, Ear Relief and Eye-C.

New at the co-op Dr. Goodpet Flea Relief, Ear Relief and Eye-C. For more than 30 years, pet owners have been using Dr. Goodpet to heal their dogs and cats with all-natural, homeopathic formulas that are made right here in the USA.

Chico 3-Layer Face Masks

New color choices for these 3-Layer Chico Face Masks. They are very comfortable while giving extra protection.

Lily’s Delicious Holiday Sugar-Free & Less Sugar Chocolates.

Since its inception, Lily’s Sweets has been committed to supporting causes we love and believe in. We pledge a percentage of our earnings to non-profit organizations that support the fight against childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Jade Leaf Organic Matcha Latte Mix, Culinary Matcha and Ceremonial Matcha

Organic Cafe Style Matcha Latte Mix - Original Create delicious matcha lattes at home! Lightly sweetened cafe style blend Just add your favorite milk (almond, oat, soy, coconut, dairy - all work great) Mixes easily in hot or iced preparations 100% USDA Organic, All...

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.