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7Gen talks with Krissy Leonard, Community Relations Manager of Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier, Vermont.
7Gen: What do you love most about running a natural foods store?
Krissy: Our co-op is unique in that it has over 6,400 Member-Owners in our small state capital of Montpelier, which has about 8,000 people. This is a testament to the support that we have and how interconnected we are with our community. The best part of running our co-op is that we have the ability to work with so many different members of our community, from farmers to Member-owners to food banks and schools.
7Gen: Tell us about your history.
Krissy: Hunger Mountain Coop began as a pre-order service in the late 1960's, when a group of neighbors joined together to buy bulk natural food products that were hard to find elsewhere. When the orders became large enough, the Members voted to open a store. We moved to progressively bigger locations, and we expanded our current store in 2008,bringing it to approximately 20,000 square feet on the banks of the Winooski River.
7Gen: What makes Hunger Mountain special?
Krissy: We're a Co-operative. Instead of one person or group of investors contributing capital and owning the store, individuals (Member-Owners) all contribute equally and have equal ownership and influence over the co-op. This means that each Member-Owner gets a voice and a vote in the co-op's future and that their feedback and vision plays a role in how the co-op evolves. It's a very cool feeling to own the store where you shop!
7Gen: What questions do customers ask most often?
Krissy: People look to us as a resource for healthy, environmental, and responsibly manufactured products. People put their trust in us to provide products that meet their needs. A lot of the questions we get are about ingredients and where products are sourced.
7Gen: What do you wish they would ask more often?
Krissy: Would you like some chocolate? … just kidding (though that would be nice). It would be great if shoppers were interested in learning even more about the depth of our buying policies. Lots of people come in for the selection and for delicious food, but what makes us unique is that every single product that comes into the store has been tried, tested, and researched. We read all the labels so our shoppers don't have to.
7Gen: Tell us why you love Seventh Generation products?
Krissy: Besides being from our home state of Vermont, Seventh Generation products are certainly a great value, a product you can feel good about, and best of all…they work!
7Gen: What is your favorite Seventh Generation product?
Krissy: Seventh Generation toilet paper is a hugely popular product for us. The diapers and wipes are also items that appeal to customers who are trying to get the safest and highest quality products for their families.
7Gen: What else should we know about you or your store?
Krissy: We're Member-Owned, but you don't need to be a Member-Owner to shop at our store. We are open 8AM-8PM every day and welcome anyone looking for fairly priced natural food products in Central Vermont. We're always happy to see new faces in the store and love working with groups in our community to bring healthy local foods to the masses.