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Systems That Work (It): New Seasons

November 1, 2011

My local (and favorite) grocery store is a finalist in the GOOD Co. Project, and it’s well-deserved. New Seasons has a reputation of being one of the best employers in town, and even check-out workers I talk to have often been there five or more years, due to the excellent pay, benefits, and work atmosphere. The produce is fresh and gorgeous, local offerings are well-marked, and the grocery selection is a well-curated mix of affordable staples and interesting luxuries. As with many ‘foodie’ grocery stores, people sometimes complain about the prices, but honestly, I feed two of us (quite well) for just under $300 every month.

Something else that I think is quite important about New Seasons is the fact that, unlike stores like Whole Foods, they sell a mix of products. You can buy artisanal locally-produced cheese, but you can buy a mass-produced candy bar, too. Mass-produced candy bars certainly aren’t part of that ideal food system I talk about, but to bring new people in, you need old standards. To get people to consider buying locally-grown kale, you need to get them into the store in the first place. And it recognizes that not everyone can even afford wonderfully-produced food, and that they still have the right to buy food (and in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, too).

And while I’ve never had anyone open 81 jars of mustard for me (I’ll have to try that…), during my most dispiriting day of the entire summer, an employee saw my sad face and blank stare, and gave me a free pint of ice cream of my choosing. Just because. It made my month.

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