Natural Foods Merchandiser
Certified B Corp retailer focuses on creating community beyond the front door

Certified B Corp retailer focuses on creating community beyond the front door

New Seasons Market grocery store officials in the Portland metro area put their money where their mouth is when they say they are all about “community.”

“We have a deep love of our customers, vendors, farmers and our staff,” said John Boyle, head of merchandising and buying. “We pride ourselves on offering an experience that makes you feel good.”

Free nutrition classes and store tours are just one part of that community focus—a focus which has led to rapid growth. In addition to its 15 existing Portland locations and one California location, New Seasons officials recently opened two new stores—one on Mercer Island, another in Portland’s Slabtown neighborhood. Two more new locations are planned—one in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood in October 2015 and another in the University Park neighborhood next spring, Boyle says.

A few examples of New Seasons Market’s community involvement:

The first Certified B Corp grocery store company to be certified in 2013. Companies that receive certifications focus on using the power of their businesses to do “good,” by taking care of their employees, the community and the environment, Boyle says. One example is how the grocer donates 10 percent of its after-tax profit back to nonprofit groups that work to end hunger, educate youth and protect the environment. Employees are given paid time off to volunteer, Boyle says.

New Seasons teamed with a local delivery company to help vendors. B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery company is a local “last-mile” logistics and electric-assisted trike delivery that aggregates products from local producers and delivers them to stores—reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, Boyle says.

Local Finds program. New Seasons offers help to small regional vendors just starting out with classes, advice and support from employees, quality assurance, label development and marketing. Since the program started in 2013, new products from more than 150 new vendors have been added to store shelves.

Related: New Seasons Market worked with berry grower Unger Farms last winter when the family-run business was looking for capital to expand its strawberry acreage. The store purchased the entire Hood strawberry order early in the year, allowing Unger Farms to double its acreage to supply all of the Portland stores with the prized berries, Boyle says.

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