Today I had the opportunity to visit the Tacoma Food Co-Op on 6th Avenue, which opened its doors this past August. I had never shopped at a Co-Op before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or what I’d find. I’m happy to share what I discovered with you!
So what is a Co-Op, exactly? Simply put, it’s a grocery store owned by local members. In general, food co-ops provide natural foods with an emphasis on local sourcing. Specifically, the Tacoma Co-Op features natural and organic foods, locally wherever possible, and does not sell anything with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). By running their buiness as a Co-Op, members can make a direct say in which items are featured and which are not. There is also a strong emphasis on education, volunteerism, and community.
According to their website, the Tacoma Food Co-Op “recognized the need for an affordable urban natural foods grocery that would provide local organic and natural foods, as well as a community around these foods.” Indeed, there is a community feel when you enter the store. Today there were several volunteers helping stock the shelves and the vibe was definitely friendly and personable. With coffee sold in the front of the store for $1, it’s just the sort of place you’d want to linger in on a rainy fall afternoon.
What I was drawn to first was the produce! With the season of the farmer’s markets drawing to a close, it’s nice to know you can enjoy farm fresh eats year round at the Tacoma Co-Op!
You know it’s organic when it’s not perfect. You just can’t get these kind of eggplants at your regular grocery store – and I love that!
So you might be wondering about coupons. I was definitely surprised to learn that yes, the Tacoma Co-Op DOES accept manufacturer coupons! The caveat is it must scan – but they do take them! I even managed to find these hangtag coupons on their health and beauty aisle.
Guess what else I found? Part of an aisle devoted to organic bulk items! I found dried fruit, organic flour, organic nuts, millet, and more.
I couldn’t help but notice there was a sign up on the end of the bulk foods aisle. It read that they would really like to double the selection of bulk food offerings at the Co-Op, but need the funds to do it. So they are encouraging folks to become a member of the Co-Op before October 31st to make this happen.
While you don’t need to become a member to shop at the Co-Op, the $100 lifetime membership fee gives you voting rights, in-store member’s only specials, and possible future dividend checks. If you’re thinking about it anyways? Consider doing so before October 31st!
One thing that stood out to me was their meat selection. The meat comes from a mere 20 miles away and is as organic and farm-fresh as it gets! Unfortunately it’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for an outstanding local meat source, I think the Co-Op is worth considering. This may be one of those areas you save in another area, so you can spend here!
Another selection in the store I just loved? Local raw honey! You know some of you have shared with me recently the benefits of buying and eating raw local honey – it’s really good for helping with seasonal allergies.
I loved how many items were marked throughout the store with the farm they came from. You really do feel you are connecting to the people who made the food and supporting them.
Beyond that, the food just looks good at the Tacoma Co-Op. I couldn’t resist; I had to pick up one of their beautiful loaves of organic bread for dinner. (To go with the honey, of course!)
If you are looking for a new store to check out, and you like the idea of buying locally/organically and being part of a food community, I would highly encourage you to drop in at the Tacoma Co-Op! I imagine that they will continue to get settled in, so you might want to follow all their developments on Facebook, on their website, and follow them on Twitter.
You might also be interested to know that they are now taking orders for holiday turkeys! There are several options available including free range, organic, and heritage (older turkeys which produce more dark meat). There are only a limited number of turkeys available (so you’ve been warned!).
Tacoma Food Co-Op, I’d like to officially welcome you to the neighborhood! A special shout out to Gretchen who was so friendly and took the time to answer my questions about the Co-Op, and graciously allowed me to take photographs today. We’ll be back!
The Tacoma Food Co-Op is open Mon – Fri 8am – 9pm and Sat 10am – 7pm. There is free parking along the side of the store.
Locals: have you stopped in at Tacoma Food Co-Op yet? What appeals to you about shopping there? And if you’re not local, I’d love to know what you like about your local Food Co-Op? Tips for saving money at the Co-Op?