Thank You for a Great 2015! Co-op Year in Review

To all of our members, volunteers, shoppers, and supporters,

Yelm Food Co-op2As 2015 closes we want to thank everyone who has made the continuing effort to sustain the vision of the Yelm Cooperative.

On December 6th the board hosted its annual celebration to recognize working members who put in time as volunteers in multiple capacities. “Many of them have been here for long periods and continue to make the commitment to keep the store going,” says General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. Yelm Farmers Market Manager Karen Rae also hosted an end-of-season gathering for all of the vendors and volunteers that made the 2015 market possible.

Barnaby also acknowledged the store staff, many of whom have been part of the co-op for many years.  “They keep us moving in a positive direction,” he says. But perhaps most importantly, the members and customers are what drive the evolution of the co-op. “Without them, it really doesn’t matter what effort we put in,” he says. “It’s their decision to sustain our store by buying their groceries here.”

The year saw changes and improvements on multiple fronts. Here are a few of the highlights:

Yelm Food Cooperative

Facilities and Equipment

The store installed a new misting system for the produce case and brought in a new two-door freezer. Anyone driving down Yelm Avenue can now enjoy new signs with the co-op logo on the front and back of the store. Currently efforts to provide new lighting for the signs and better lighting for the entire facility are underway.

Growth and Recognition of the Wine Cellar of Yelm

“Probably the biggest surprise for 2015 was the growth in the Wine Cellar,” says Barnaby. “It’s starting to reach the levels that Anne Marsh has anticipated.” The Wine Cellar was voted 4th out of 105 wine shops in King 5’s Best of Western Washington Contest.

Training and Development

In an ongoing effort to improve training throughout the store, the staff began meeting on a semi-regular basis with working members to discuss changes in store operations, recent improvements, and goals for the store. “We been working at improving our material internally for employees and volunteers,” says Barnaby. “We update them and reinforce the updates through meetings. Both new and seasoned working members have the opportunity to review those manuals for improvement and input.”

What to Look For in 2016

In the year ahead, says Barnaby, there is the potential for a full remodel, dependent on funding. “We hope to be able to provide better service by adding a full-service deli, fresh meat section and a beverage section,” he says.

Yelm Farmers Market

Power of Produce

Over 600 children signed up for the new Power of Produce Program at this year’s market. The program encourages children to make healthy food choices and have more awareness of where their food comes from and what they’re eating. Every week flocks of children showed up with their red shopping bags to claim their $2.00 worth of tokens that they can spend on fruit or vegetables or a plant that grows food.


Both the business community and individuals stepped up and supported the market through sponsorships this year.

More Vendors and Live Music

The market included weekly live music this year, creating a wonderful atmosphere for browsing, tasting and interacting with all the treats on offer. Several great new vendors joined the seasoned veterans as well, contributing to a greater variety of offerings.

Record Breaking Attendance and Sales

On opening day the market broke last year’s record with over 1,000 people in attendance. Despite this summer’s heat wave, attendance and sales both exceeded previous year’s totals.

Events and Projects

Beer and Brats

Sales were up from at this year’s event, where volunteers braved the sweltering heat to serve over 400 bratwursts to the community.

Gift of Gobble

The Gobble team exceeded its fundraising goal this year, raising over $8,000 and feeding 126 local families.

Thank you for your support and Happy 2016!

Read More

Community Comes Together to Support Gift of Gobble

gobble 2015Since it began six years ago, the Gift of Gobble has been helping families through rough patches when they may not be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal. This year, one of those families turned around and donated, says Project Director Barbara Morando. “Now they’re doing very well and they wanted to contribute. They’ve also become members of the Yelm Food Co-op.”

The project fed 126 families this year and a team of volunteers exceeded their fundraising goal, raising over $8000. “We had an excellent response from the business community,” says Barbara. “Most of the people we contact contribute and that’s a big part of it. Co-op members and shoppers and the general public are also very supportive.”

Over time, local businesses and shoppers have become familiar with the project, which helps when it comes to not only raising funds but identifying families that could use a little extra support around the holiday. “I think that we have really been able to create good connections with the Yelm and Rainier Schools, the military and local churches,” says Barbara.  “The outreach has evolved very nicely so that we can include a broad spectrum of the community.”

Barbara says it couldn’t happen without a huge collective effort. “I want to thank everybody who participated: the Co-op staff, because Gift of Gobble creates an extra burden for them and they’re very helpful, the volunteers, the businesses who donated and all of the contributors from the community,” she says.View Photos

Read More

Nali Naturals = Great Gifts for Procrastinating Holiday Shoppers

IMAG1373 (1)Anita Jones didn’t want to make soap. Her passion was naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, which she’d studied since the early 70’s. In her Nali Natural Body Care line, she offered high quality European soaps along with her own creations.

But a little voice kept telling her to make her own, and one day as she was leafing through a merchandising catalog, she turned the page and there was a soap making kit. “I decided to try this and see what happens,” she says.

Nine years later, Nali Natural Body Care includes 24 varieties of 100% glycerin soap along with five butter lotions, scented dead sea salts, body and facial salts, and bath salt soak bags.

She started her business in 2006 because she wanted a small ticket item to sell in her downtown Tacoma antique store. Instead, “The skin care outsold the antiques,” she says. “The antiques are in the garage.”  Eventually she began selling her products online and next year is looking to expand around the country into markets like Chicago.

Anita’s formulas and recipes are all proprietary, as is her process. She combines ingredients that helped her cure acute eczema after her doctor couldn’t help her. “I learned how to cure it myself,” she says. “I was finding that people were coming into the store asking for something for eczema.”

Both online and in person, she has a strong base of repeat customers. “What keeps me doing this is the customers’ feedback,” she says.  “When I see them again, tell me that whatever issue I recommended a particular soap for, it’s resolved or resolving. It’s getting back to nature and using stuff that’s good for you. I see the results on my own body. I test everything on myself, but I test it across a wide demographic as well.”

After beginning life as small ticket items for her now defunct antiques store, many of her products are still the perfect inexpensive gift for a co-worker or friend, she says. For the procrastinating shoppers among us, there’s still time to pick them up in the health and beauty section at the Yelm Food Co-op.

Read More

Shop Local This Christmas! Rainier Women Offer the Gift of Essential Oils

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 9.35.51 PM (1024x591)_1000If your workplace could use some holiday cheer, instead of calling a team meeting why not spray a little Citrus Sunshine throughout the building? Citrus oil functions as a natural anti-depressant, says Diane Binder of Nature’s Higher Healing. “Smell goes directly into the limbic system of the brain,” she says. “If you can use it to calm emotion and bypass the personality, that’s a good thing.”

Based in Rainier, Binder and her business partner Lori Drayson offer several lines of essential oils body butter and sprays that are currently available at the Yelm Food Co-op. All of their products are hypo-allergenic, organic, and cruelty free, and contain no synthetic fragrances or colors.

One of their first products was the Palo Santo Sacred Spirit Collection. Palo Santo translates to “Holy Wood” and the tree has been used by shamans in Ecuador in purification and cleansing ceremonies and as an aid to meditation and prayer.  “It was a dream of Lori’s to bring out a line of palo santo,” says Diane. “In this collection we offer the purification spray for people who are not in a position to burn wood for smudging. The spray is an alternative for people who might be in the hospital or other circumstances where burning wood is not feasible.”

The pair’s next effort was Citrus Sunshine which comes in both spray and body butter form and includes ruby red grapefruit, lemon, sweet orange, bergamot, and mandarin red oils. They also added a line of French Lavender. While citrus oil uplifts, lavender calms, says Binder. “It’s such a full spectrum oil and there are so many benefits to it,” she says. “You could diffuse lavender in the air and affect everyone in a very positive way.”

Nature’s Higher Healing was born after Lori, a massage therapist, met Diane, who at the time was running a bed and breakfast and taking care of Alzheimer’s patients. “My job was taking a toll on me,” says Diane. “We both knew we wanted to be of service but we wanted to do it in a way that made us happy. Lori encouraged me to quit.”

After learning about essential oils from her neighbor Anita Marriott, Diane became a certified aromatherapist through Bastyr University. “I wanted to know why the oils work and understand their chemical components,” she says.  These days, “I’m the alchemist and Lori is the motivator,” she says.  “She’s got that New York on fire energy. I’m more in my head. We balance each other out in a lot of ways.”

They’re achieving their goal of serving in a way that makes them happy. “If someone can feel really good after a full day and our products give them some tranquility, in the long term we’re being of service but also adding to the world,” says Diane. “We feel really good about what we’re presenting for people to put on their bodies.”

Visit the health and beauty section at the Yelm Food Co-op to find Nature’s Higher Healing products.  

Read More

Saturday Food Adventure! Sample Specialty Ice Creams and More this Weekend at the Co-op

Yelm Food Co-opAt a recent trade fair in Portland, Florence Vincent had a memorable experience with ice cream. “Our gal dragged us over to the Choctal table and said ‘You must taste these’”, she says.  The company offers ice cream based on specific vanilla and chocolate beans from around the world. “There were eight different tastings. We would take a breath and take time to savor each little bite. “You can tell the difference with the beans from different countries. It’s like a wine tasting experience with ice cream.”

This Saturday Co-op shoppers will have a chance to share that experience. Between 1:00 and 3:00 a representative from Choctal will be on hand offering samples. Additionally, Tish Watford of Olympia’s Sneaky’s Savory Spirulina Popcorn,  Patty Bahney Warter of A Blend Above Gluten Free Products, and representatives from Cannavest hemp products will have tables set up for customers to try their wares.

“I’m very excited about people getting a chance to taste these foods,” says Florence. “It’s going to be fun. Why not come and experience some things that aren’t available anywhere else in Yelm? It’s going to be a fabulous experience.”

Join us!

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Saturday, December 5th

308 E. Yelm Ave in Gordon’s Garden Complex

Read More