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9 organizations to support, educate independent retailers

Being an independent natural products retailer has its advantages, but storekeepers need support, too. Consider joining these organizations.

Melaina Juntti

April 29, 2024

4 Min Read
9 organizations to support, educate independent retailers

For a natural products retailer, there are umpteen advantages to being an independent business. For example, unlike most retail chains, independents have the opportunity to carve out a unique identity for their stores. They can also remain nimble, adapting to trends and changing marketplace dynamics to better serve a local community’s needs.

But that doesn’t mean independent natural products retailers must always go it alone. There is strength in numbers after all, so it’s often smart to team up, collaborate and learn from one another. It can also be beneficial to ally with other stakeholders in the natural products industry, with other independent businesses in a community or with other retailers beyond the natural products world.


This is exactly why trade associations, business alliances and industry- and impact-based nonprofit organizations exist, whether at the local, regional, national or even global level. These groups provide their members with support, connections, camaraderie and a wealth of resources to help drive business success and achieve specific goals.

Here are nine national organizations for independent natural products retailers to consider joining.

Independent Natural Food Retailers Association

Founded by four forward-thinking retailers back in 2005, INFRA is now a nationwide force. As a purchasing cooperative, it gives independent natural products retailers a strong voice, collective buying power and operational and marketing support. INFRA has grown to include 350 members and more than 600 retail locations in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, representing $2.7 billion in sales.

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National Co+op Grocers

Launched in 1999, NCG is a business services cooperative that supports retail food co-cops across the U.S. by bolstering purchasing power and providing operational and marketing resources. A Certified B Corporation, NCG now comprises 161 co-ops operating more than 230 storefronts in 39 states with combined annual sales of $2.4 billion.

SENPA Natural Industry Alliance

Originally the southeastern arm of the Natural Products Association, SENPA has since broken off and evolved into a nationwide nonprofit devoted to helping independent natural products retailers and manufacturers thrive. Along with advocating for laws that protect and enhance the industry, SENPA hosts SOHO Expo, SOHO Roadshow and SOHO HealthFest to foster retailer education, connection and business success.

Provender Alliance

Provender Alliance represents one of the earliest efforts to unite, organize and propel the natural products industry. Formed loosely in 1977 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1983, Provender offers education, networking and trade support for its membership, which now includes almost 200 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, brokers and consultants across the U.S. The organization will host its 48th annual educational conference in October.

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National Grocers Association

NGA is a national trade association for independent, community-focused grocery retailers— whether conventional, natural, hybrid or specialty—and the wholesalers that service them. Both single-store operators and multistore chains can join NGA, so long as they are family owned or privately held. The 1,700-member organization provides government relations, advocacy, research and education for retailers, along with hosting annual conferences and trade shows.

FMI, The Food Industry Association

Founded as the Food Marketing Institute in 1977, the organization rebranded as FMI, The Food Industry Association in 2020, reflecting its mission to “advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain.” Representing food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers of all sizes and types, FMI facilitates retailer education, share groups, topic-specific conferences and food safety training, plus provides a wealth of market data and insights for its members.

American Independent Business Alliance

AMIBA may not be specific to food, natural products or even retail, but the nonprofit advocates fiercely for local, independent businesses. Founded in 2001, the organization spearheads several “buy local” campaigns and addresses policies, economic structures and inherent biases that can stifle entrepreneurship or put independents at a competitive disadvantage. With an ecosystem approach, AMIBA assists community leaders in developing resilient local economies and offers its members a robust library of business resources.

Natural Products Association

The natural products industry’s oldest and largest trade association, NPA dates back to 1936 and today represents over 700 members and 10,000 retail, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution locations of natural products. Instrumental in the 1994 passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), the organization continuously lobbies lawmakers on the industry’s behalf. NPA also administers several certification programs, including TruLabel for dietary supplements, the NPA Natural Standard for personal care and home care products, and GMP certification for supplement manufacturing facilities.

One Step Closer

Launched as OSC² in 2012 and renamed One Step Closer in 2020, this community of values-aligned leaders works collaboratively to tackle pressing challenges related to food, agriculture and the environment. With a “shared vision of a more regenerative, just and prosperous world,” the organization provides educational webinars, peer mentoring, sustainable business support and a wealth of impact opportunities through its Climate Collaborative, J.E.D.I. Collaborative and Packaging Collaborative.

About the Author(s)

Melaina Juntti

Melaina Juntti is a longtime freelance journalist, copy editor and marketing professional. With nearly two decades of experience in the natural products industry, she is a frequent contributor to Nutrition Business Journal, Natural Foods Merchandiser and Melaina is based in Madison, Wisconsin, and is passionate about hiking, camping, fishing and live music. 

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