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3 natural industry vets celebrate retail’s role in the food revolution

Three industry founders look back at the roots of natural product retail and discuss how exponential growth has shaped business innovation and community culture.

“We’re not in the business of selling products, we are in the business of helping people.”

—Mark Ferguson, Down to Earth Organic and Natural

Part 1: 40 years of mission-based retail

Highlights:  

  • Doug Greene, founder of New Hope Natural Media, talks about his story of becoming interested in holistic health at a young age and how his work of bringing people together helped define New Hope Network. 
  • Mark Retzloff, founder of Alfalfa's Market, Horizon Organic Dairy and Aurora Organic Dairy, tells his story of starting the first natural foods co-op in Ann Arbor and how he got started in building retail businesses around the country. 
  • Mark Ferguson, Down to Earth Organic and Natural, discusses the mission of being one of the first plant-based and mission-based retail stores that is celebrating 40 years in the industry. 
  • What always surprises Greene about Expo West is that even though the show has grown, the core of the show is still the same—to bring people together to connect with others and build community.
  • The natural products community has always had a heart of trying to help others instead of just trying to sell products. 

 

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Part 2: How to do it better today

Highlights:

  • How do we take what's working and do it even better today? 
  • Retzloff talks about his focus to bring different communities of people together to gather insights on trends, supply challenges and ideas to improve Alfalfa's. 
  • Greene emphasizes the need to reinvent constantly in order to have a positive impact on redefining our local communities.
  • Ferguson discusses his guiding principles and the details that make a retail store thrive in today's competitive environment. 
  • Retzloff speaks to learning how to be present with millennial shoppers and why there is still high demand for brick-and-mortar retail.
  • Greene talks respect for retailers and encourages retailers to continue reinventing the space by networking and connecting with others in the industry.
  • Ferguson talks about the importance of staying focused and not worrying so much about competition that you lose sight of your mission and your team.

 

This session—Founders Roundtable: Celebrating Retail's Part in the Natural Food Revolution—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

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