BOISE, Idaho - — Tucked into Boise's beloved North End neighborhood is an iconic grocery store that many would argue is more gathering place than grocer: the Boise Co-op. Director of Marketing Mo Valko says, "One of the reasons I think people love coming into our stores is you know the show 'Cheers,’ everybody knows your name...You recognize your neighbors [here]."
The Boise Co-op has been bringing unique, local, hand-picked products to Idahoans since the 1970s, and Valko says it's been quite a journey since it's inception in a Boise living room. "There wasn’t even a storefront, it was just a group of people who were looking for nutritious and wholesome foods."
That group was initially just buying local produce in bulk and sharing it amongst themselves. They quickly realized, though, that there was a wider interest in what they were doing, so they found their first storefront on 13th Street in Boise, and things took off from there, with the Co-op continuing to grow and expand with the community since 1973.
What makes the Co-op different from your typical local grocer is that shoppers can buy into the business with a one-time payment of $65. "That actually gets you a share in the company and it’s good for your entire household," Valko explains.
And being a part-owner definitely has its perks. "We offer a 10% discount day every month, where you can come in and get 10% off in our stores that day. We also have a pretty great local day sale, where we can highlight all the great partnerships we have with local businesses in the area."
While membership is encouraged, Valko says you definitely don't have to be a member to shop the Co-op: "For us it’s more than a shopping experience, it’s like we’re the community hub." And that hub recently added another spoke, with the Co-op's second location opening up in The Village at Meridian in 2015. "It’s been really fun to introduce that community to our unique local brands."
Both Co-op locations do offer well-known national brands too, but Valko says it's the abundance of those uniquely Idaho items that are the heart and soul - and bread and butter - of the Boise Co-op. "[Those brands] just give our community more of a unique flavor, both literally and figuratively," says Valko, "and we love knowing the people who make our food, and walking around and saying, oh hey I know the person who made that, they were just in the store the other day."
Besides all of those grocery staples, the Boise co-op also offers one of the best wine collections in the Northwest, along with full-service meat and deli counters. At the North End location,you'll also find a specialty pet supply shop for animal owners.
To learn more about Co-op membership and all that they offer, check out their website here.