Above: Our Eureka Warehouse, circa 1982
Our co-op began as a food buying club in 1972 called Humboldt Common Market, run entirely by volunteers out of a small storefront in Arcata, California. In 1973, we incorporated as Arcata Cooperative, Inc. and moved to the old Seely and Titlow building at 975 H Street (now Northtown Books), held our first election of our Board of Directors and hired our first paid workers. Only a couple of years later we began a warehouse and trucking operation.
After continued growth, and a few more moves, we landed in the Purity building at 811 I Street (our current Arcata location). We reincorporated as North Coast Co-op in 1981 and opened a second location in downtown Eureka in 1982. In 1988 we opened a third location in Fortuna, but it closed only a few short years later in 1992. Our warehouse and trucking operation sold to Mountain People’s, which eventually became United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI). UNFI is today the largest supplier of natural foods in the country.
The Beginning of the Cooperative Community Fund
It was around that time that we started our Cooperative Community Fund, a charitable arm of our co-op that provided support to the community. We set about remodeling our Arcata location in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2002 we negotiated our first contract with United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Our Eureka location bounced around a bit until we opened our beautiful store at 25 4th Street in Old Town Eureka in 2006.
Business with a Purpose
Since that time, we have been working to improve our member-owner services, product selection, and customer experience in our stores. Our Board of Directors creates a strategic plan every five years with involvement from our membership to help guide our direction. Our current focus is on developing our local food shed, investing in our future, educating and advocating, enhancing the Co-op experience, and promoting environmental responsibility.
A Leader in Local
Since the beginning we have worked with local farmers and food producers to bring local products to our shelves. We are proud to claim that we have contracted with some organic farmers in the area for more than 35 years! Our push to promote products grown or produced within a 250 mile radius has driven the demand for local products in Humboldt County.
We've come a long way from our buying club days, but we stay true to our cooperative values and strive to create community through food.