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. On August 24, 1973, we incorporated as Arcata Cooperative, Inc. and moved to the old Seely & 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 at our current Arcata location in the Purity building at 811 I Street. 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 currently the largest supplier of natural foods in the country.
The Beginning of the Cooperative Community Fund
It was also in the early 90s that we started our Cooperative Community Fund, a charitable arm of our co-op that provides 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
We are always hard at work improving our member services, product selection, and the 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 making the Co-op a welcoming community hub, pursuing racial and social equity in our practices, promoting environmental responsibility, fostering new cooperative ventures, creating a robust local food economy and ensuring the financial viability of the Co-op for the long term.
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 say that we have contracted with some organic farmers in the area for more than 35 years! Our push to promote products grown in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity counties 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.