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Home > About The Co-op > History

Our History

Since 1970, Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth, Minnesota, has been a community hub for quality food. Our Co-op started when an ambitious group of friends started a buying club in the basement of the Chester Creek house to buy and share bulk grains and other organic foods that weren’t available in regular retail stores. Over the past fifty years the Co-op, has grown to over 13,500 Owners, 150+ employees in 2 retail locations, and over $21 million in annual sales.

What sets us apart?

We pioneered local and organic groceries in the Twin Ports and are known for great customer service, a wide selection of local products, scratch-made deli foods, specialty diet offerings, and a strong commitment to community.  

Explore Whole Foods Co-op through the decades!







Whole Foods Co-op


In 1970, 20 members form the Whole Food Buying Club in the Chester Creek House at 13th Avenue East and 2nd Street. The Chester Creek House served as a community house for people to share the expenses of living and give support to one another.

A multi-story, old-style brick house with a distinctive round turret featuring multiple windows stands proudly near the Whole Foods Coop in Duluth, MN. The house has a dark shingle roof and is surrounded by trees and greenery. A set of stairs leads up to the front porch under an overcast sky.


The first Coordinator was hired.


The buyers’ club moved to 901 East 7th Street and then again that same year to 24 West 5th Street.


Whole Foods Co-op merges with Community Food Buying Club at 631 East 8th Street.

Whole Foods Co-op


As the Co-op entered its second decade annual sales increase and merges with the West End Co-op.

This image shows the exterior of a small grocery store called


Julie Ball wins the contest to name Whole Food Co-op’s newsletter the Garbanzo Gazette.


The first paid cashier is hired through the City of Duluth job placement program (MEED). West End Co-op closes.


Whole Foods Co-op “wheat” logo is designed by Member Marian Lansky

Whole Foods Co-op


The Co-op was growing in the community, hosting events like the first Midsummer Organic Food Fest (MOFF) and an Earth Day Fair. By the end of the 90s annual sales approached 2 million.

A vintage photo of a Whole Foods Co-op store in Duluth, MN with a maroon-roofed building. Signs read


Moved to 1332 East 4th Street. Opens on March 31, 1993.


Whole Foods Co-op Matching Fund is renamed The Fran Skinner Memorial Matching Fund.


First printed Annual Report is mailed to Members.

Whole Foods Co-op


Co-op membership exceeded 5,000 and the Co-op became a Certified Organic Retailer.

A storefront of the grocery cooperative, Whole Foods Coop Duluth MN, with the sign


Moved to 610 East 4th Street. The Co-op had 3,159 active members at the end of the year.


The new store’s grand opening was held in January. Whole Foods Co-op becomes the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified Co-op in the U.S.  earning the certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.


Received Certified Organic Retailer/Storewide Certification.

Whole Foods Co-op


Co-op membership exceeded 5,000 and the Co-op became a Certified Organic Retailer. The Co-op expanded by opening a second store and updated its branding.

A brick building with large windows houses the Whole Foods Coop Duluth MN. The entrance has an orange awning above the door with


Celebrated 40 years in business.


International Year of Cooperatives, the June 20th ‘Great Flood,’ Brewery Creek Overlook seating area and parking lot were expanded.


Second location site is purchased; Hillside store undergoes remodeling.


Denfeld store opens at 4426 Grand Avenue.


Workers unionize, represented by UFCW 1189.

Whole Foods Co-op


In this decade we embrace the rich history and core values that define our Co-op. We eagerly anticipate our ongoing commitment to uplifting our community and supporting our local food system into the next fifty years.

Brick building of the Denfeld Whole Foods store from an aerial view.


Celebrated 50 years in business. Global pandemic created a shift in operations in-store. Safety protocols and online ordering were added. 


Seating areas, in-store sampling, and in-person community events are introduced back into daily life and operations.