Co-op History

Our cooperative has an impressive history that began in the late 1970’s when a small group of individuals banded together to form a buying club in order to get hard-to-find, healthy, and affordable natural foods.  In 1981 the former buying club incorporated in the State of Tennessee as non-profit club.  It soon opened as a retail business in a small two-story building close to downtown Knoxville under the name Knoxville Community Food Cooperative (KCFC), serving the needs of its members by providing access to an array of then scarce local, natural, and organic foods. The KCFC also served as one of Knoxville’s environmental pioneers. Home of the first recycling center in Knoxville, its emphasis on recycling and community education continues today.

Throughout the next two decades, the KCFC continued to increase its selection and grow its business but it had two big problems. It was not incorporated as a cooperative, and its facility was outdated and unable to serve the whole community.  This resulted in financially instability. Therefore, in 2005, the KCFC changed its structure from a dues-based club to an equity-based cooperative. This change signaled a new era and the former KCFC became Three Rivers Market, a genuine customer-owned cooperative business.

In 2009 Three Rivers Market purchased land at 1100 N. Central Street, less than 1/2 a mile from the old store, and developed a new store. We relocated in August of 2011, selling the old building in 2015.