Tacoma Food Co-Op: My Trip

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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?

10 thoughts on “Tacoma Food Co-Op: My Trip”

  1. Hi there – I have always wondered about food co-ops, thanks so much for sharing! Do you, by chance, have any recommendations (other than PCC Natural Markets) for good co-ops in Seatte?

    • Hmmm, I really don’t as this was the first one I’d ever visited. Other readers – have thoughts for Lisa?

      I did notice this – the Seattle Farm Co-Op is having a FREE Harvest party Oct 23rd. It may be a good opportunity to see what they have to offer!


      • Lisa, I’m a member of Central Co-op (which runs Madison Market on 16th and Madison in Seattle), and I love it. I especially appreciate the care they go to in vetting products and vendors (like avoiding HFCS and not selling Coca-Cola or Pepsi products, including their lines of juices), which is something that saves me a little time and effort. The selection of products is great, and the staff is very helpful and friendly. I also just like the feel of the store–much less overwhelming than a grocery like QFC or Safeway, but still with just about everything I need.

  2. I went when it first opened and a nice gentleman took the time to show me around the store, answer my questions, and generously gave my daughter a free pastry. The focus on education, community, affordability, and health will keep me coming back. I am so excited to have another place to shop for local and organic goods!

    • That’s what stood out to me, too – the people there are genuinely excited about what they have to offer and will take the time to share what they know.

      The gal that I chatted with took the time to explain some interesting facts about local honey that I didn’t know!

  3. Got to go for the first time 2 weeks ago. I work next to Pike Place Market, but enjoy making a weekend pit stop here for the grass fed beef and all natural pork. The produce is great too.

    And yes, item by item, organic/all natural foods cost more. The cost reflects the time and effort into creating actual food, not Franken-Food. But the flip side is that we eat too much food anyway. Or too many calories at least. So a moderate caloric intake of actual food vs. a huge caloric intake of fake food can be more healthy and cost a similar amount of money.

    Thanks for the report!

  4. I was one of those stockers on Thursday, and I remember noticing the two of you because you were taking pictures. Too bad I didn’t recognize you – I would have loved to say hello, as I am a loyal reader of your blog!!

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