Joel Stein, grocery manager at The Common Market, explains what sets the 18,000-square foot co-op apart. The store quadrupled its size by moving to its current location in 2006 and includes a café, juice bar and sustainable seafood department.
Store manager Kathleen Weaver explains The Common Market's co-op system to tour attendee Wayne Ferrell. Owner-members pay a $200 equity-share fee and in return receive store discounts on Owner Appreciation Days and an annual patronage rebate check when the store makes a profit.
Long-time employee Ellen Joy, wellness department specialist at Roots Market, boards the tour bus to share the store's history with attendees. When a fire inside the 13,000-square foot building caused the store to close its doors in 2006, dedicated employees and devoted customers worked around the clock to restore the facility. Within 12 days, Roots Market was able to re-open its doors for business.
Naturals store co-owners and sisters Krystal and Kim Hillsman were impressed by Roots Market's innovative displays designed for customer education.
Naturals customers head to Bark Pawsitive Petfood for high-quality, nutritious meal options, said store associate Matt Smith. The store is part of the 18,000-square-foot section of the mall where Roots Market is located—referred to as Conscious Corner. Roots Market store owner Jeff Kaufman opened Bark Pawsitive to offer natural, holistic food, treats and toys.
Roots Market store owner Jeff Kaufman opened Nest in 2004 to offer sustainable clothing, gifts and home goods. The store is adjacent to Kaufman's Great Sage restaurant which offers vegan and organic cuisine.
Common Market produce department manager Mark Garcia poses with a glistening bunch of local Maryland apples. Nearly 98 percent of the store's produce is organic, but Common Market continues purchasing nonorganic apples to support local producers working towards USDA Organic certification. Why most customers look for the seal: "A lot of people start to feed their kids—and then look for organic and never turn back."
In a bustling wellness department, Sharon Brennan, CNC, a certified nutrition and health coach, samples Barlean's fish oils and discusses the latest research on omegas. Common Market offers sampling and demos such as this at least twice a week. "Of all the local health food stores, Common Market has the most educated shoppers. They ask educated questions and want to see the studies, the science," says Brennan.
For Tali Mozes, Common Market lead wellness buyer, the best part of her job is "giving warm fuzzies." That is, educating shoppers on holistic changes that incorporate supplements, exercise and nutrition—and having them come back in to tell her it's working. "You have to have a relationship with your customers," she says.
Anna Prokop, a Roots Market wellness associate, models an "Anna's Favorite" merchandising card showing Andalou Naturals skin care. Scattered throughout the store, these endorsements offer insights into which products store employees really use and why (with no monetary incentive for recommending certain companies).
To promote an entire healthy lifestyle and make smart nutrition choices easier for customers, Roots Market includes resources like special-diet cookbooks in its dynamic displays throughout the store. Roots is even selling the book and DVD Forks Over Knives at cost to help educate customers.
Wellness experts at both Common Market and Roots help educate customers about gluten-free lifestyles, including the increasing number of "gluten-free" personal care products available. They say that customers with severe allergies can experience reactions from topical contact with wheat, so both stores make gluten-free options readily available. Here, a gluten-free beauty display towers high at Roots Market.
Natural Products Expo East's 10th annual store tour revealed the philosophies behind Baltimore naturals stalwarts Roots Market and The Common Market.