Your Co-op is Recruting a General Manager

In order to take the Yelm Food Co-op to the next level, the Board of Directors has decided to seek a professional cooperative grocery manager to become the YFC General Manager.

Ideally, this person has cooperatives in their blood and will want the challenge of taking the existing, successful retail store into its next 5 years of growth and profitability and of service to our members, our customers and our community.

We are now in our 5th year and we just keep growing! Growth brings both opportunities and challenges and this is when it’s time to bring in an expert. Everyone involved so far has done an incredible job of growing us from a little shop with a few products and under 100 members to a growing, profitable store in a new location doing more than three quarters of a million dollars in sales and a membership pushing 1,100!

We need to keep the momentum going and we need to have it going in the right direction. If you know anyone looking for a really exciting new opportunity, let us know at

We currently have ads running on Craigslist and in several other locations and hope to begin interviewing candidates in October for a potential fill in December.

Keep checking back for updates!

Read More

Yelm Food Co-op now at Gordon’s Garden Center!

Great news for the future of your Co-op! Here is the press release announcing the long anticipated store relocation:

For Immediate Release

Exciting News from Gordon’s Garden Center and the Yelm Food Coop

Yelm, WA, March 27, 2012 – Kellie Petersen, owner of Gordon’s Garden Center, and Bill Wyman, President of the Board of Directors of Yelm Cooperative, are pleased to announce the relocation of the Yelm Food Coop Retail Store to the Gordon’s Garden Center complex during the month of April in 2012.

Gordon’s opened in Yelm 47 years ago as a food market, and over the years expanded to include garden products including premium quality decorative and food producing trees and plants for the home gardener. Today, Gordon’s stands as one of the region’s premiere retail destinations for quality gardening products, and has achieved the Washington State Environmental Award of Excellence for their organic program. This year, Ms. Petersen is expanding Gordon’s services to include a Wedding Registry, Design on Demand, Personal Shopper, and an innovative Best Food Forward to better serve the Yelm Community.

The Yelm Food Coop is the Retail Store Program arm of the Yelm Cooperative, a unique Community Service Organization focused on food education, access to farmer-direct safe and healthy organic foods, and long-term community food sustainability. Other planned Yelm Cooperative community service programs include Yelm’s first Farmers Market, and an educational community garden. Additionally, the Yelm Cooperative’s food-based educational programs will provide hands on training in growing, processing, home pantry rotation, and cooking.

Gordon’s Garden Center and the Yelm Cooperative are forming a “Perfect Partnership” by operating independently yet together at the Gordon’s Garden Center complex. Organic and sustainable principals guide both operations, and provide the community with a centralized hub for shopping and access to their complementary services.

Working together, Gordon’s Garden Center and the Yelm Cooperative help to promote a healthy and sustainable community, now and for future generations.


Gordon’s Garden Center                                Yelm Food Co-op
Kellie Peterson                                                Bill Wyman, Board President
360.458.2481                                                  360.400.2210


Read More

You have Voted for Change!

voting for changeOur members have voted for us to pursue the new direction outlined at the Special Membership Meeting held Jan 28th.

Yea votes = 107; Nay votes = 7.

These results meet the Bylaws requirements that a 10% quorum of the members vote, and that a majority of those voting approve the resolution.

We will be establishing the Yelm Cooperative as a 501.c.3 federally approved non-profit organization. It will oversee the programs of the Retail Store, the Farmer’s market and the Community Food Education Program. The latter will now encompass what was earlier seen as the Community Garden program. It will now become the “practicum”, or the hands-on aspect, of the education programs on gardening.

The new membership structure was also approved and this will give us the ability to cover much of our operating costs, finance at least some of the expansion and will allow us to adjust prices downward in many cases.

Keep watching this space for updates!

Read More

Special Membership Meeting Jan 28, 2012 [Video]

Special Membership Meeting Jan 28The Special Membership Meeting that was held on Jan 28th, 2012 introduced the plan for restructuring the Co-op into a federally mandated non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3).

More details are on the blog:
Vote for the New Yelm Food Co-op

We taped the whole presentation which you can watch in full here on YouTube;
Special Membership Meeting 01 28 2012

[Note: this video took nearly 11 hours to upload to YouTube. Somehow a sync problem started and runs throughout. So we suggest you close your eyes some of the time and you won’t notice :-)]

Please watch it and leave us a comment. That will help this video become more valuable in promoting your Co-op’s website.

Enjoy!  And then go the the store, pick up a ballot and vote for the new Co-op!

Read More

Farmers Markets Create Jobs

farmers marketWe are working hard to get the city government to broaden the rules for farmers markets so that we can build a really great one in Yelm.

This article on Triple Pundit provides some hard data that supports our position that a farmers market in Yelm would be good for local farmers, for local shoppers and for the economy.

Even the federal government recognizes this fact; they just seem to think huge subsidies for mega-farms and bombs is more important than supporting local communities. But, we can change their minds!

Here's a fact from the article:

…local farmers markets in the U.S. doubled from 2,863 in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010 and over 100,000 farmers are selling their products to customers directly.

This came from a report released this month by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) entitled Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems.

The growth of the farmers markets is not really due to government help. The article goes on to say: “This proliferation was not bolstered by federal spending. In fact, the report states quite the opposite, that USDA invested $13.7 billion on commodity, crop insurance and supplemental disaster assistance payments that aided big industrial farms. When it came to local and regional food system farmers, however, they spent less than $100 million.”

Help us push the city officials to update their policies and procedures for farmers markets and then help us build on that will blow their minds!

Read More

Local Investment

local investmentOne of the beauties of the cooperative business model is that local people invest in a local business, and that local business invests in the local community.

This was the standard model in our country for most businesses 100 years ago. But things changed dramatically after the 1st World War when foreign trade began to play an ever bigger role in our economy. Then the first Meijer Superstore opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1962 Then Wal-Mart took it to a new level when they opened their first superstore in 1988.

But where it is leading us economically? Charles Hugh Smith, proprietor of the esteemed weblog, sees the path to future prosperity in removing capital from the Wall Siden det er umulig a sla sa er den beste Keno strategien a bare nyte tiden du spiller og finne gode casinoer a spille det hos (se listen ovenfor). Street machine and investing it into local enterprise within the community in which you live.

This comment was on Chris Martenson's most recent newsletter in an article entitled, “Why Local Enterprise is the Solution”. Here is what Smith thinks:

“We have to solve our own problems. The savior state and these institutions are not going to reform themselves and they are not reformable in any way that is meaningful. And so, I think what we’re talking about is taking your capital, which is your human capital, your skills and your experience; your social capital, the people you know and trust that you’ve created in life; and your financial capital and investing them in local solutions. Things that people need, like energy and food and shelter and a low energy lifestyle.”

This is why, in their planning for an expanded store, the Strategic Planning Committee and the Board are working hard to have local investment as the financial driver behind the expansion. They know that there are enough people in our community who see things the same way and are looking for the investment vehicle.

We're going to give it to them!

Read the rest of Charles Hugh Smith's article here – it's worth the read.
“Why Local Enterprise is the Solution”


Read More

Is the Co-op too Expensive?

Recently one of our staff met some friends shopping in another local grocery store and got into the conversation as to why they didn't shop at the Co-op instead.

The answer was, in short, that our prices are too high. That drove them to shop at a large supermarket that does sometimes have better prices because they buy in enormous volumes nationwide; but their profits flow out of Yelm back to their home state providing little long-term benefit to Yelm.

This conversation was passed on to our past Store Manager, and present Board of Directors Vice-President, Aaron Rodgriguez. His reply beautifully responds to the issue which has been one we have heard since we opened the store in 2007. Here is his reply to our staff member regarding her friend's comments:

“Do these people live in Yelm? If so, ask them if they know what it means to their community to support the YFC. Whole Foods is significantly more expensive than we are so I would ask that person to cost compare us.

For the person who says we are too small, tell him or her that the more members we have the more support exists to move to a larger space. If they shop at Oly Co-op let them know that it took Oly 10 years to add the second store and we are in year 4 and looking to move.

At the end of the day, we can't convert everybody, so let them know that you will still be their friend even after we move to our new location with all of the wonderful space and amenities but that you will never let them forget how short sighted they were ; )

Also let them know that shopping at the Co-op is investing in the growth and prosperity of Yelm and if

they can't see that then they can continue to shop at Safeway until the distribution channels are interrupted and food no longer appears on the shelves as readily as it once did and that priority will be given to those who have shared the vision of the Co-op from the beginning.

Lastly, feel free to tell them that they could easily volunteer 5 hours a week and receive a 20% discount on groceries that would make us the best deal in town.”

Part of the reason we are driving hard towards expansion is to be able to buy in larger quantities and to be able to take advantage of supplier specials which will allow us to pass on the savings to our members and customers and at the same time allow us to maintain the margins we need to pay for more staff, buy equipment, maintain what we have, modernize systems, etc, etc in order to provide ever better levels of service and improve the shopping experience for everyone.

The larger stores also have the ability to spread their margin requirements across a wider range of products many of which do not meet the rigorous quality standards that we have set for our products. Your store's motto follows our mission statement of providing the highest quality merchandise that we can. It has never been “Always Low Prices!”, it has always been
“Always Best Products!”.

Please hang in there with us as so many of you have from our very modest beginnings in April 2007. Your continued patronage and support through member fees and donations and volunteering will help us grow our store to the level we all want to see it at.

Go Co-op!

Read More

Help Your Co-op! Fundraiser for Marketing Study


As you know, the Co-op Strategic Planning Committee is in the initial phases of planning for store expansion. The replies we got from you in our survey earlier this year were overwhelming in favor of a bigger store (68%).  To accomplish this there are certain steps that we and the Board of Directors must take in order to assure all of the member/owners that the expansion can be accomplished with minimum levels of risk.

One of the things we have been doing is consulting with Co-op experts, both at the Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) in Olympia and the Cooperative Development Services (CDS) in Minneapolis, Minn. Both have long histories working with cooperatives in all aspects of the business: start-up, expansion, marketing, management, capitalization, membership, financial feasibility, store design and so on.

We are working with the NWCDC on a preliminary cost analysis which will be done by the end of June. This study is financed by USDA Rural Development funds so we have NO out-of-pocket expense for this valuable work. Next, we need to have a detailed Market Analysis and Site Evaluation done by CDS and beyond that an Internal Readiness Study also by CDS. The Internal Readiness Study will evaluate and make recommendations on staffing the store and Board management. In addition, we will have them do a more in-depth Financial Feasibility Study.  The detailed Market Analysis, Site Evaluation and Financial Feasibility Study will be required by all of the investors and lenders of major funding that we anticipate approaching for the expansion funds.

The total estimated cost of all of these studies combined is approximately $27,000.

To raise this money we are asking you, the member/owners of the Co-op to help by making any contribution you can.

We are looking at grants and loans that might be available to help us as well. But, this is YOUR store and it’s about the store’s FUTURE!

Your management is dedicated to growing the Co-op safely and wisely and results of these studies will help them in making the decisions necessary to fulfill all our goals.

Donations will be being accepted at the store starting June 1st.

Thanks for your support.

Bill Wyman

Board President

Go Co-op!

Read More