Vegans for five and seven years respectively, Labure and Gochnour met in 2011 while doing some work for animal-rights group Plants and Animals Denver -- a collective of volunteers that LaBure helped start.
After they'd collaborated their for a while, they realized how much they would like to have their own place to push animal rights. And that's how Nooch began taking shape: as an extension of their ideology. "She was more on the clothing side, and I was in the grocery business, so I was more on the food side," LaBure says. "So I was like, 'Well, let's team up,' and we ended up opening a shop that has both ideas together."They named their store Nooch, a vegan slang term for nutritional yeast, which has a cheesy flavor that works well in sauces, gravies or popcorn.
After Nooch had been in business for almost two and a half years, they realized they needed more room -- probably because it was the only store in the area specializing in vegan paraphernalia. They started looking for a new location, and found the storefront in Baker. "We live in the neighborhood, we are friends with a bunch of businesses on the street," LaBure says, "so it made sense for us to come here. We found this space and it was perfect."
Perfect for Nooch's mission, which is about more than just not selling animal product: It's about sharing the values behind veganism. "Veganism is not necessarily a trend or people trying to be cool, but rather people figuring out how unsustainable the food system is. You can get all the nutrients and be healthy," LaBure explains.
That's why they're selling not just snacks, cookies, baking stuff and frozen products, but also home goods, clothing, vitamins and cookbooks. They're also careful to offer products from independent companies, particularly local ones. "If there is a local option we try to go with that direction," LaBure notes, "but unfortunately, there are not many local vegan food specialists in Denver."At the new store, they're planning for a bigger selection of products, books and clothes. And LaBure and Gochnour will continue hosting sporadic pop-up shops in Colorado Springs and on the third Sunday of each month by Denver's Neat Market; they're also looking at other events to get the community more involved.
"Everyone is welcome, whether they are vegan or not," LaBure says. "We are not trying to alienate anyone. We basically just want to share good food."
The new Nooch Vegan Market is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit noochveganmarket