The Boise Co-op is a member owned cooperative, founded in 1973 by a few dozen individuals who were brought together by a mutual interest and excitement in buying healthy, great tasting food for a reasonable price. They formed a small, food-buying club tucked away in the back room of the El-Ada community outreach center where they remained until February of 1975. In 1975 the Boise Co-op opened at 1513 N. 13th street, taking over the basic dirt-floor storefront that served to house the Salvation Army originally. This new store provided primarily bulk foods, stored in barrels, as well as sandwiches on bread baked fresh daily; there was no wine or beer nor meat for sale and very limited perishables available at that time as refrigeration was limited. Still the Boise Co-op flourished in this Hyde Park location, growing from a handful of dedicated clientele and volunteers to a store that had become the reliable resource for tasty and nutritious foods for hundreds of locals seeking a healthy alternative to the larger, face-less grocery stores popping up throughout the area.
In 1984 the Boise Co-op moved to its third location at Hill Road and Harrison Blvd. Although its floor space quadrupled, this new location became very crowded very quickly as it allowed the Co-op the opportunity to expand to include an ample produce department, wine and beer sales, a supplements and vitamins area as well as a partial deli – all packed within approximately 6000 square feet. With no more than 21 parking spaces available for the several hundred Co-op members and frequent customers, it was evident that this location would not permanently suffice. By 1996 Co-op sales had more than quadrupled once more and the cooperative made its move to its current location at 888 W. Fort St – taking over the site of a beleaguered old M & W market.
Now located in 26,000 square feet, the Co-op still uses every available space for shopping, stocking and housing our staff. Every department has expanded over the past decade and a half to provide a greater variety and product availability, perhaps the most dramatic example of which being the wine and beer department. By 2007 the beer and wine department had expanded into roughly ¼ of the floor space for the entire store, at which point it became evident that a satellite location must be formed – thus the wine department opened its own independent Wine Shop across the parking lot from the main store. The Boise Co-op Wine Shop has the finest selection of local wines as well as wines available from the finest wineries throughout the world. The beer department, still located in the main Co-op store, has the finest selection of domestic and import beers in the entire state and stands alone in providing exceptional, one-of-a-kind brews on a daily basis.
Today the Boise Co-op has come to be relied upon to provide its customers with a thorough assortment of eclectic items and products from both local and international vendors. With a permanent eye on ecological impact, environmentally friendly and healthy alternatives, the Boise Co-op allows customers to shop with conscience. In the years since its humble beginnings the Co-op membership has grown to over 40,000 dedicated clientele. From its inauspicious beginnings of a handful of bulk and non-perishable items the store has grown, currently shoppers can choose from a selection of over 65,000 different items on any given day. However the Boise Co-op is still all about providing healthy, great tasting food at a reasonable price.
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Photos and text courtesy of Boise Co-op