Patronage Refunds=Happy Co-op Shoppers

Patronage Refunds = Happy Co-op Shoppers

easter happyDawn Young and her daughters got a welcome surprise last week when they went shopping at the Co-op: a more than $80 patronage refund based on how much she’d spent at the store in 2014.  “We did a happy dance and filled up a bag of mixed nuts from the bulk section without a thought of how much it was going to cost,” she says. “It was exciting.”

For the second year, the Co-op is providing this perk to current members in good standing and original members of the Co-op who joined before it became a non-profit organization. It’s based on the revenue generated in the previous year. “Once our sales reach the proper threshold, this is something we can offer our members as an acknowledgment of their support,” says General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. *

Current members and original members who have not renewed both get a 1% refund of what they spent in the previous year. Anyone who qualifies in both areas gets a 2% refund. Bulk items purchased through the Buy Club and certain products like newspapers don’t count toward the refund, and the purchases must be made under the member’s name and membership number. Shoppers have until December 31, 2015 to use their refund.

“The reward reinforced why we shop there,” says Dawn. “It’s a great incentive to continue to invest in the Co-Op’s goals of reaching a stronger buying base that will reduce prices throughout the store. We also feel appreciated for our contribution. The refund was twice as much as last year’s, so as a family, we achieved our goal of supporting the Co-Op more.”

To find out if you have a patronage refund waiting, visit the store and talk with one of our cashiers. We look forward to seeing you!

*Note: Patronage refunds are proposed to the Yelm Cooperative board of directors by the General Manager. The proposal is based upon profitability and the financial needs of the store. Consequently, Yelm Food Cooperative does not guarantee a patronage refund for any given year. However, members have expressed a great deal of support for the program, so management will consider proposing a patronage refund for every given year.




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Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

beekeeping class

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, consuming local raw honey and bee pollen is a great place to start getting your body in tune with the local flora. Bee Forever Apiary offers raw, unprocessed products developed in the Bald Hills area.

Thomas Mani, owner and operator of Bee Forever Apiary, explains why that’s important.  “A lot of stores offer honey that’s been ultra-filtered,” he says. “That process removes small particles like pollen.” But pollen, he says, has a fingerprint, just like people do, which reveals its origin. “Ultra-filtered honey loses its fingerprint, which opens the door for cheating or adulterating the honey,” he says. “A lot of honey that’s offered in grocery stores has corn syrup in it, molasses and water content of up to 25%,”

In contrast, Bee4ever’s honey has no corn syrup, and the water content is kept below 17% so that it can be stored for long periods.  No heating is applied during the extraction and bottling process, which means that all of the valuable ingredients like enzymes remain intact.

Additionally, some local residents have found that Mani’s honey helps them with issues that have plagued them for decades. “I have always experienced severe allergies not only during the hay fever season, but all year round,” says Judy Mezen. After trying Mani’s pollen and honey, she decided to give up he antihistamines ‘cold turkey’ and only use the pollen and honey, supplemented during the strongest part of the season with freeze-dried stinging nettle. “Beginning with day one, I was successful,” she says, “All I have to do is take a small pinch of the pollen and about a teaspoon (or less) of honey and within about 5-10 minutes I can breathe clearly, and it even takes away my sinus headaches. I have been able to do weeding in my garden and even mow the lawn.”

Bee4ever Apiary’s Raw Honey and Bee Pollen are available in the second aisle of the Yelm Food Co-op.

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What Breaking $2 Million Means for Co-op Members

What Breaking $2 Million Means for Co-op Members

millionManager Debbie Burgan on Loyalty, Passion and Why Numbers Matter

Debbie Burgan believes that Co-op members want to support the store – they may just not know how. Information, says the Yelm Co-op Manager, was a key to breaking $1 million in sales after less than ten years of operation. “It was important to make our members aware of what we were trying to do,” she says. “Once Tina Maggio made a sign showing our goal, they stepped up and did more.”

Burgan has been a key player with the Co-op since its beginning back in 2005. “There was so much passion to open this store,” she says. “We literally opened it up on  a wing and a prayer. We knew it was going to work. In the first few years, we had so little, just a lot of customers who wanted the store as much as we did. We still have that customer base.”

Expanding that base is a key for the Co-op to hit the next target. Breaking the $2 million threshold would be the first step in allowing the store to apply for membership with the National Grocers Cooperative Association, which would provide multiple benefits, including buying power. “If we can get the buying power that other co-ops have, our buying structure changes,” says Burgan. “That benefit would get passed on to our members.”

“I don’t think it will take us long to hit the second million,” she says. “We just need more of our members to show support by spending 80% of their grocery dollars with us.”  Right now, a core of approximately 200+ members are doing exactly that. Were that number to double, the additional revenue would make a lot of improvements possible, such as a deli section.

Doing the numbers comes easily to Burgan, who came to the Co-op after wrapping up a corporate career in the software industry. “I wanted to find a place where I could take the best of corporate structure and the best of what people wanted for the Co-op and bring them together,” she says.  Here’s one more number she has in mind: “I want to see six cash registers at the Co-op and they’re all busy.”


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Ice Chip Grannies’ Other Company Adds Humor to Health

Ice Chip Grannies’ Other Company Adds Humor to Health


ice chip granniesBefore Ice Chips Candy, before Shark Tank, before Beverly Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary were the ‘Ice Chip Grannies’, there was Healing Leaf. This original line of all-natural salves was one of the first companies created by Vines-Haines and Clary (aka ‘the grannies’), and is still close to their hearts. “Healing Leaf is a perfect reflection of our goal to create natural and safe skin care products,” says Vines-Haines.

Their first invention was created as a way to help a friend who was suffering from a severe fungal infection. “He was an Air Force pilot who had served three tours in Vietnam and often had to wear heavy boots for days at a time. So we formulated an anti-fungal salve, went out and bought the ingredients, and cooked their invention up on Charlotte’s stove,” says Vines-Haines.  They mailed it off to their friend and eventually they heard from him that it worked.

From there, they went on to create a slew of products bearing creative names like Zappa Zit (acne solution), Splat! (Food Stain Remover) and Ahhh . . .  (muscle relief). The Yelm Co-op currently carries Sandal Toes (Nail Fungus Solution), Skin Wizard (Skin Care Solution), Massage in a Bottle (Extreme Joint Pain Relief ), and Psoria-Cease (Psoriasis Solution), which tends to fly off the shelves.  They are all non-GMO and are not petroleum based, unlike many skin care lines. “Often people forget products placed on their skin or scalp are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and circulating through their bodies,” says Vines-Haines.

While Ice Chips takes up much of their time, “we intend to continue our focus on natural products whenever possible,” says Vines-Haines. “We have employees who are well trained in making our skin care products and they often give us ideas and suggestions. Charlotte and I have many ideas we hope to implement in the future and our health and beauty aid line has a bright future.”


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Manager Jutta Dewell: Make the Co-op Your Meeting Spot

Manager Jutta Dewell: Make the Co-op Your Meeting Spot

co-op funWalk into the co-op on most days and you’ll inevitably run into Manager Jutta Dewell – inevitably, because Jutta has been pivotal to the life of the store. You might think that she was born knowing about gluten and GMOs, started volunteering for great causes in pre-school, and has always embraced the world of retail. You’d be wrong.

“In Germany, I worked for a car rental company and oversaw many, many BMWs,” she says. “Before I came here I’d never worked in retail and didn’t even know what a co-op was. I used to go to the one in Olympia and think, ‘Oh my God, it’s so expensive.” But when the idea for the Yelm Co-op was conceived nearly a decade ago, she became a member of the steering committee and was part of the team that led to the opening of the store. She continued to volunteer, at one point becoming a board member, and today, she’s one of three managers.

“I’ve never been a volunteer in my life before coming here,” she says, “ but I had the time to do it, and they needed help.” Years of volunteering and contributing in any way she could eventually led to her current position. “I was part of creating my own job,” she explains. “I was happy to do that. This is different than just working for a company.”

The experience has given her a special appreciation for those who donate their time today.  “I am impressed with how many people contribute. That is something I’ve never experienced before. Without working members and volunteers, we could not make it,” she contends. “We can’t pay everybody, unfortunately, and it’s amazing.  We have some volunteers who come every week, several times.”
To Jutta, ambience is a critical component. “The atmosphere has to be nice,” she says, “for the volunteers and also for the customers.  You want to come here. That’s what I always think. Just enjoy the atmosphere or learn something, or meet someone that you know and can talk to – that’s part of it all.”

Over the years, she’s been continually inspired by the idea of a sovereign community. “The co-op is part of that,” she says. “No corporation owns us. Our goal is to have more and more local people sell their products here. We also educate people about what it really means for the economy when you buy locally. More people are waking up to the fact that the food they eat is not the best. They are coming to the store and they want to know. That’s where I see the co-op is so important.”

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