Authentically Pacific Northwest from the very beginning.
PCC began as a food-buying club of 15 Seattle families in 1953. Since then, our priorities haven’t changed. In everything, we strive to be an advocate for our community. We’re dedicated to preserving local farmland and partnering with Northwest producers and ranchers. Our passion is for great food and cooking, from our fresher-than-fresh local produce to our in-store kitchens where original recipes are made from scratch daily using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Because when you love a community, you feed it well.
Up where the food is a little more down to earth. Where you can forage fearlessly from any aisle. Where tasting good and being good for you are one and the same. Eat up colorfully, boldly and with the seasons. Dig into a root vegetable you’ve never seen before. Bite into local, organic cherries and have a pit-spitting contest. Discover comfort food from a different country. Eat from scratch when you can. Or from our scratch-made deli when you can’t. Eat the last crispy corners left in the brownie pan. Eat like your neighbor grew it, because she did. Eat with a co-op that supports the folks behind the food. Let’s eat up happily, sustainably, organically and locally. Most of all, eat full-hearted and open-minded. Over shared tables, shared values, and a shared vision of our planet as a healthier and more flavorful place.
PCC COMMUNITY MARKETS. EAT UP.
A History of PCC
John Affolter starts a food-buying club in Seattle, Washington, in which 15 families participate. The combined buying power of member households reduces the cost of food. In 1957, the club moves with the Affolter family to Renton, Washington, where it’s known as the May Valley Food Club.
May Valley Food Club members transform their club into a consumer cooperative called Puget Consumers Co-op, or PCC. All co-op purchases are conducted through “The Depot,” the Affolter’s home. Product inventory is maintained at The Depot and a network of delivery and pick-up stations are set up at the homes of individual club members.
The cooperative elects a board of trustees, which meets monthly, and members pay dues semiannually. A monthly newsletter is started — the beginning of what is now PCC Sound Consumer. By year-end, sales top $5,000.
PCC opens its first storefront in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood, supported by a membership of 340 households. Co-op operating expenses are funded by regular dues; each household pays dues proportional to household size, and products are sold at cost.
PCC moves from the Madrona storefront to Seattle’s University District, on N.E. 65th St. A split begins between members who want PCC to focus on offering natural foods and those whose primary interest in the co-op is saving money. The product line shifts toward natural foods.
Some members, who feel PCC is getting too big and want a store closer to their homes, withdraw their certificates and form the Capitol Hill Co-op in Seattle.
A number of cooperative ventures are created to form a supportive network for farm produce. Cooperating Community, an organization set up by loans from PCC, is formed and comprised of businesses that do everything from retailing produce and dry goods to providing day care and health care services.
PCC begins laying the foundation for the Seattle natural food market by shifting our direction to “good, wholesome, health-oriented foods.” Says store leadership: “We’re trying to cut out unnatural, chemical-stuffed food products and cut down on ecological pollutants. It’s time we become more concerned about what goes into our mouths.”
Staff push for bylaw changes that allow up to four staff to serve on the board of trustees and that automatically make all staff co-op members. Internally, staff adopt the same pay scale for all employees. Workers take on some management responsibilities, marking the beginning of worker management of the co-op, which eventually develops into democratic management.
PCC helps start Seattle’s P-Patch program. Today there are 88 unique community gardens throughout the city, where volunteers use organic gardening practices to grow food for themselves and for local food banks.
The Phinney Street Co-op is started by some PCC members, with financial support from PCC.
A second location is needed to relieve overcrowding at PCC. The PCC Mercantile opens across the street, accommodating tools and other nonfood product lines. A storefront next door also is rented to hold the packaging department and a small office, freeing up space in the food store.
The co-op moves to a new location in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. The new store attracts new members and prompts explosive growth, with sales more than doubling from the previous year, topping $2 million.
PCC purchases Co-op East in Kirkland, Washington, and it becomes PCC’s second location. The transition from one store to a multi-store organization begins with the centralization of the financial and planning functions, along with advisory member store councils at each store. The PCC Board of Trustees encourages the formation of corporate committees, with board, staff and members. Membership triples.
The Central Co-op in Seattle opens with financial support from PCC. It replaces the Capitol Hill Co-op, which closed in 1976.
The first demographic survey of PCC customers is conducted, for both stores. Results indicate that consumers are traveling great distances to shop at PCC because they can’t find the quality and selection of products anywhere else. The board of trustees and staff realize that more stores are needed. Membership at the Ravenna store is closed to new members, due to overcrowding.
Greenlake PCC opens in a residential neighborhood of Seattle, and the business office is moved there from Ravenna.
Difficulties at the Kirkland location lead the board to suspend democratic management until the situation improves. There is a movement toward unionization at the Kirkland and Greenlake stores. Ravenna store membership is reopened.
To provide better oversight of the growing cooperative, the board hires PCC’s first general manager, replacing the more passive “Planning Coordinator” structure still in place from just two stores. More business office jobs are developed. PCC’s board of trustees initiates more bylaw amendments, including having only up to two staff members on the board.
Foodworks!, a nutrition and cooking education program, is founded. It eventually becomes PCC Cooks. Today, the program offers 1,600 cooking classes a year.
PCC negotiates its first contract with Retail Clerks 1105, representing Kirkland, Greenlake and some office staff. Forums and surveys are conducted on PCC expansion and how it should be addressed. The board decides to pursue a course of continued cautious growth.
The Ravenna store moves to join the Greenlake and Kirkland stores in union representation. The PCC business office moves to the University District. Sales at year-end top $10 million.
Seward Park PCC opens. A Meat Shop, Inc. service counter is opened at the Ravenna store. A union contract for store staff is renegotiated; office staff decertifies from union membership.
Total stores now number 4.
View Ridge PCC opens in Seattle.
West Seattle PCC opens. Cash for the Hungry (now known as the PCC Food Bank Program) is started.
PCC purchases the Meat Shop, Inc., and all meat department workers become PCC staff. A contract is negotiated with UFCW Local 81 representing meat cutters and wrappers.
South Everett PCC opens and proves out the age-old adage that location matters. Situated at the back of a small shopping center, the store is unable to attract members or shoppers. As the result of continued poor sales, South Everett PCC closes after only three years.
Fremont PCC opens in December. A full-service deli is added to the Ravenna store. All PCC locations begin composting programs.
PCC discovers a small farm in Eastern Washington that can supply organic eggs to the co-op. This is the start of the organic egg market in the Puget Sound area. PCC also partners with two Washington state farmers, bringing them into the Organic Valley farmer cooperative, thus initiating the Washington state organic milk market.
PCC pledges to not knowingly sell foods that have been irradiated. The same year we pledge to eliminate rBGH from our dairy supply chain.
The Greenlake Market, located on Aurora Ave., is purchased, with plans to relocate the first Greenlake PCC.
With the closing of the South Everett store, total stores now number 7.
Greenlake PCC moves to its new location on Aurora Ave., where it continues to thrive today. A new price structure, eliminating the nonmember markup, is introduced.
PCC members provide over 30,000 comments to the USDA regarding their proposed national organic standards, rejecting irradiation, GMOs and sewage sludge in organics. The comments represent over 10% of all comments received by the USDA.
In order to achieve recognition among the nonmember public that the co-op was a food store, PCC starts doing business as PCC Natural Markets. The PCC Board of Trustees transitions to the Carver model of Policy Governance™.
Issaquah PCC opens.
PCC founds the PCC Farmland Fund, now known as PCC Farmland Trust, an independent 501(c)(3). The Trust saves its first farm in 2000 when 100 acres on the Olympic Peninsula are leased to master farmer Nash Huber and incorporated into his organic farming apprenticeship program. Nash’s produce has been in demand at all PCC locations ever since.
PCC members write over 12,000 letters to congress in support of GMO transparency in foods.
The struggling Ravenna store closes. PCC sells the Ravenna real estate to Third Place Books to leave a much-appreciated legacy in that community.
Goldie Caughlan, who founded the PCC FoodWorks! program and is widely recognized for her nutritional savvy and advocacy of organic food, is nominated by PCC and appointed to serve a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board.
High volume of sales at Fremont PCC prompts plans to move to a larger location. PCC sales top $75 million.
PCC switches our bulk teas to Fair Trade certified.
The new Fremont store opens, offering more space and parking.
PCC obtains organic certification for all of our stores. This means we meet strict organic handling standards to ensure the organic products you choose remain organic from the farm to your shopping basket.
PCC Kid Picks, a taste-testing program for kids, is started. The program makes it easier for parents to identify the not-so-obvious foods little ones love.
PCC is the very first retail partner to participate in Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, and continues to follow their guidelines today. Even our canned seafood adheres to the same standards as fresh, earning the No. 1 ranking in 2009 for sustainable seafood among all U.S. retailers by Greenpeace.
PCC begins offering free fruit to kids. This practice continues today and includes any item in the produce department — even pineapple.
PCC establishes a sustainability task force focused on reducing our environmental and social impact.
PCC begins to sell GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunity to Workers) bananas. Growers earn a fair price, field workers are well treated and well paid, and the environment is protected.
Redmond PCC opens. The following year it becomes the first grocery store to earn LEED Gold Certification for exceptional design, construction and operation of a “green” building.
PCC sales top $100 million.
PCC eliminates plastic shopping bags from all stores. Products that contain rBGH, added trans-fat and high-fructose corn syrup are removed from store shelves.
Edmonds PCC opens with PCC’s first commissary, built to support all the stores, housed in the same building. The store is constructed with enough green-building features to earn dual certification: LEED Platinum and Salmon-Safe.
PCC pledges to only sell sustainable shrimp in our stores.
The PCC Cooks program wins the Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in the Avocational Cooking Schools category.
PCC makes a substantial commitment to the Non-GMO Project in support of the nonprofit, multi-stakeholder organization’s efforts to preserve and build sources of verified non-GMO product choices.
PCC is honored with the “Leadership in Action” award by The Organic Center, for leadership in non-GMO food policy. The Edmonds store undergoes an extensive expansion of its commissary facility and becomes the site of the first PCC-hosted electric vehicle charging station.
PCC pledges to label GMO items in our stores by 2018, and to strive to become a GMO-free retailer.
PCC leads the effort to support GMO labeling transparency by supporting the People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (I-522). Although the measure doesn’t pass, it helps to build momentum for label transparency in our country.
The Issaquah and Redmond stores become the first two homes for WISErg Harvesters, an enzyme-driven digester that repurposes food scraps into liquid organic fertilizer. Today there are Harvesters in five stores.
PCC adopts Fair Trade chocolate standards to ensure our chocolate is socially responsible and sustainable.
PCC launches our bagged apple program, which funds school to farm programs in the community. To date, PCC has donated over $218,000 from the proceeds of bagged apple sales.
PCC sales exceed $200 million.
Greenlake Village PCC opens in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood. Total stores now number 10.
Food Management Institute (FMI) recognizes the PCC Food Bank Program as one of the best in the nation. More than 72,000 pounds of food are donated in 2013 alone.
The failure of a decades-long effort to expand the 7,000-sq-ft Seward Park PCC, on a combination of its existing land and the parcel next door, results in its closure on July 23 and the relocation of the business to the 26,000-sq-ft Columbia City PCC the next day. PCC again sells the real estate (this time the Seward Park store) to Third Place Books to leave a lasting contribution to that community. The new Columbia City store introduces PCC’s first Taqueria and noodle bar.
PCC partners with online service Instacart to offer members and shoppers delivery.
PCC adopts a set of animal welfare standards that are widely thought to be the most stringent in the nation.
Bothell PCC opens and becomes the second store to feature a Taqueria. The Rotisserie also is introduced, featuring slow-roasted meats, and the Café, where seasonal galettes and the decadent PCC Crownie are baked fresh daily.
PCC takes a fresh look at ingredients in the Health & Body Care department for safety, efficacy, sourcing and environmental impact. Using these criteria as a guide, we update our standards for Health & Body Care, and now more than 500 ingredients are no longer allowed. These standards are among the highest in the nation.
PCC becomes one of the only retailers in the nation to offer its shoppers a choice for delivery by partnering with both Instacart and Amazon PrimeNow.
PCC is recognized as WholeFood Magazine’s retailer of the year for “successfully [striking] that balance between running a business and representing the values of its 56,000 co-op members.”
Readers of Seattle Weekly crown PCC the city’s best grocer in the annual readers’ poll, declaring that PCC is “basically the REI of grocery stores, which makes it obviously Seattle’s favorite.”
The 100-plus PCC office staff leaves its 8,500-sq-ft space in Seattle’s University District to a larger office in Belltown. Total stores now number 11.
West Seattle PCC temporarily closes for redevelopment into a store twice the original’s size.
PCC Wine Merchandiser, Jeff Cox, is named Seattle Magazine’s Retail Wine Steward of the Year for being “a passionate, engaged and dedicated ambassador of Washington state wine.”
PCC Natural Markets changes its name to PCC Community Markets to better reflect its community ownership and commitment to the Pacific Northwest.
Our Vision for the Future
We aim to continue growing organically in the Puget Sound region, and to create a cooperative, sustainable environment in which the natural and organic supply chains thrive.