Boise Co-op preps for Whole Foods: 'The initial pain will be there'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The Boise Co-op has been in operation for nearly 40 years. General manager Ben Kuzma says every time a new competitor enters the market they prepare for it and Whole Foods is no different.

"The initial pain will probably be there but we will muddle through that and learn," Kuzma said.

The GM says about 70 percent of the their shoppers are Co-op members and he is confident they will be loyal to the store.

"A co-op is a different type of organization where it is community owned and people put skin in the game," he said.

At the same time he says the Boise Co-op is focused on remaining competitive.

"We have to provide what their needs are, we did a remodel, we've focused on the fresh foods department, all of our deli stuff is prepared in house. We've invested a lot in the community," he said.

The co-op says the popularity of organic and natural foods is growing. Once, stores like Whole Foods were only in big cities and now they are expanding to secondary markets. He expects the trend to continue and even more chains to move to Boise.

"What we're trying to sell is that a lot of our profits and investments are going to stay in the community. The best of our co-op years are yet to come," said Kuzma

Kuzma is happy for local venders, that they will an additional outlet to sell Idaho products. He hopes that shoppers who are attracted to Whole Foods will also check out the co-op, and that could actually bring in new customers.