by Tim Flores, Downtown bulk department head
Save money and reduce food and package waste when you buy bulk.
I love to work in the bulk food department for a variety of reasons.
I am passionate about quality whole foods, waste reduction, and shopping efficiently to save money.
Here in the bulk department, we’re all about savings and lessening our impact on the environment.
Buying bulk can help you save money and reduce food and package waste. Buying only what you need, at a good value, and reusing your packages cuts out the little inefficient costs that otherwise can start to add up to extra expense.
Another benefit of shopping bulk is product freshness. The Co-op bulk departments are very popular and that means product turnover is rapid. Bulk containers are refilled throughout the day just to keep up with demand.
Shopping bulk is simple. Our bulk departments offer reusable containers that can be refilled repeatedly. Even better, we love it when you bring in your own clean containers to refill. Just remember to weigh your empty container and record the tare weight, write the 4-digit PLU number on the container, and fill with as little or as much food as you want.
I am endlessly amazed at the quality of whole foods and spices the bulk department gets from around the world. At the Community Food Co-op, we are ever aware of what it takes to get all these amazing dried goods to our store, and we try to source the freshest, most ethically produced, and best organic goods available on the market. With this in mind, we always seek good prices to pass along to our community of shoppers. When you shop bulk, you are buying foods that are generally cheaper than the identical pre-packaged product on the shelf.
You can find things in the Co-op's bulk department that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Beyond the usual dry goods such as flours, rice, grains, and nuts, the Co-op bulk department also carries bulk honey, tamari, oils, vinegars, maple syrup, agave, nut butters, loose leaf teas, various dried seaweeds, and plenty of amazing sweets and snack items.
Visit to see what is available in our extensive bulk spice section—you might be surprised. If you’re looking for a hard to find ingredient for a recipe, need that little something extra to flavor a dish just so, or if you’re curious and just want to try new spices to grow your culinary repertoire, it’s likely we have what you need.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for—ask!
The Co-op specializes in customer service. There is always someone available in our stores who is happy to help. Bulk department managers (Tim–Downtown store and Michael–Cordata store) are great resources to find what is in stock or what might be available to order. We love to answer questions, and if we don’t know the answer to your question we’ll go out of our way to find an answer for you!
If your household eats a lot of certain staple foods, spices, teas, or coffees, you might consider placing a special order. Co-op member-owners can special order bulk products in case sizes for a 15 percent discount off the shelf price. Simply go to the service desk, ask what case sizes are available, pre-pay for your order, and return to pick it up when it arrives fresh from our suppliers. Case sizes range from as little as 1 pound for spices, up to 50 pounds for oats (one of our most popular bulk items), but the most common case size for bulk products is 25 pounds.
Bellingham and Whatcom County are amazing places to live and work, and the Co-op is proud to serve our community with two big and beautiful stores. While our stores serve different sides of town, and the layout of each store is different, we love to work together to make our product selection as linear as possible and provide a great selection in both bulk departments. But, if you can’t find what you need when shopping at either of our stores, check in with staff as it may be available at the other store.
Please come in often to discover what’s new in bulk.
I personally love to talk all things food, and I enjoy the opportunity to talk with you about cooking techniques, favorite flavors, or any odd question you might have about bulk foods or organic foods in general. So the next time you’re shopping, I invite you to stop by to chat and to discover what’s new in bulk.
Co-op Shoppers Love to Buy Bulk
In 2014, Co-op shoppers literally bought tons of bulk food!
Totals represent combined sales from both stores.
Coffee Beans—all varieties
Organic Quinoa, plain
Organic Black Peppercorns