Our search for the best independent, natural health food stores to distribute our tart cherry has reached an exciting milestone as we've expanded our presence beyond the Greater Boston area. In the preliminary stages of selecting a new frontier one region immediately came to mind - the Pioneer Valley.
The Pioneer Valley refers to a large region in Western Massachusetts, an area that is known for it's natural beauty, innovation, and its distinct culture. As an undergraduate studying in Amherst I was taken aback by the wealth of farmers markets and the strength of local businesses forged by strong personal connections. In The Pioneer Valley business is wholesome and customer experience reigns supreme; I knew that we would be proud to counts ourselves as members of this community.
Having consulted our network and done my research, one store stood above the rest: Cornucopia Foods. Cornucopia has been in business for almost 40 years. As it turns out, Nate (Cornucopia's Grocery Buyer) used to work with the team at Cambridge Naturals! I decided to reach out to see if they might be as interested in us as we were in them.
After speaking with Nate, I was introduced to the rest of the team at Cornucopia, and before I knew it, I was road-tripping out to Northampton to drop off the product and check out the store. One of the things that impressed me most about the staff, was not only their commitment to local products, but also their wealth of knowledge and experience. Iain, the supplement lead, has been at the store since 1980 - he possesses an almost intimidating breadth of knowledge on the supplements industry. That's the way we want it though, as working with people with this expertise and extreme vetting process means that they only carry the best, and most responsible supplements, a group that we are proud to be a part of.
When I arrived at the store, I was immediately impressed. My parent's owned a general store growing up, so seeing a local store with character is always a pleasure. Cornucopia has an industrious feel: located within a Victorian department store which has been repurposed as a retail space it features exposed steel beams and rustic brick. The message is clear: substance over flash, function over frill...its exactly what the supplement industry sorely lacks.
Inside, Cornucopia is filled with vibrant colors, and is well stocked with a wide range of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, as well as many of the staples that you would expect to find at a health store. The store feels small and intimate without making you feel claustrophobic or overwhelmed. It's the attention to detail that sets this store apart - a great example of this is a posted bread delivery schedule so that customers can get the freshest products from local manufacturers.
After speaking with Nate, Iain, and the rest of the staff, I was so excited that they were our newest partner - they really share many of the same values that we do and are clearly awesome people with a passion for great products and the local community. We couldn't be more excited to be in business with them, and for them to be our first partner outside of the Boston area!