Anatomy of a Sustainable Business– Whole Earth Grocery Co-Op

 Posted: April 18, 2013

A great motivator in building a sustainable community movement is inspiration…and fortunately, it’s all around us! Take the Whole Earth Grocery Co-Op in River Falls, Wisconsin as a shining example of a sustainable business that promotes a positive, holistic sense of community.

That’s why Go Buy Local is proud to announce them as a new buy local partner in River Falls!

A Shared Mission of Community Sustainability


Whole Earth Grocery is a natural foods cooperative with a mission to provide all community members with the opportunity to make healthy choices that support a sustainable planet. At Go Buy Local, our mission is to provide buy local initiatives that strengthen local business and contribute to local schools and causes to support healthy, sustainable communities across the nation…talk about being on the same page!

40 years, 40 people and an $800 Dream

More than 40 years ago as a wave new food co-ops swept across the Midwest, a group of River Falls residents came together for an organizational potluck with a collective idea…setting the stage for a River Falls institution that is thriving today!  

Even when the Whole Earth Grocery Co-Op was nothing more than just a vision, this group of 40 entrepreneurs knew that focusing on a holistic view of sustainability would be vital to the success of the business and vitality of River Falls. As a Go Buy Local business partner, we are proud to add them to our growing roster of business, school and cause partners dedicated to buy local initiatives and community sustainability.

In fact, Go Buy Local was named a “game changer” by the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development and the city of River Falls a “dream town” by Demographics Daily…a true testament to our partnership with Whole Earth Grocery and our shared vision of building community pride!

Building Community Pride

Whole Earth Grocery also capitalizes on a community that is, by nature, sustainable-centric. According Whole Earth Grocery’s Abbie Williams, “We have very experienced organic farmers in the area, with new farms and gardens being formed regularly.”

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The beauty of this sustainability model is that every time a customer spends $1 at Whole Earth Grocery, $2 is created within the River Falls community. So, how is this important? Those two bucks that go back into River Falls help create local jobs, pay mortgages and enhance the overall health of “Main Street.”

We also reinforce a commitment by the entire community – from the farmers and businesses to the schools and charities – and, because “shopping at Whole Earth Grocery is a vote with your dollar for sustainable agricultural and economic activity local and globally,” the co-op aligns well with our support of partners that promote the buy local message.

A Customer Connection

Along with promoting community sustainability across the St. Croix River Valley-area, Whole Earth Grocery also benefits from an inclusive culture that openly welcomes consumer feedback and advice. Additionally, while you don’t have to become a co-op member, everyone is welcome and membership primarily requires a passion for locally-sourced products and community sustainability. “We absolutely love our customers…they are loyal, great conversation and genuinely invested in the success of Whole Earth Grocery,” said Williams.

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Whole Earth Grocery also takes advantage connecting with the River Falls community through a robust web presence, including a Facebook page that is updated daily with recipes, co-op news, products and specials. And, as a Go Buy Local business partner, they enjoy the advantages of a marketing platform that connects them with current and potential Whole Earth Grocery champions.

You can check out the Whole Earth Grocery website to get more information on their contributions to sustainability in River Falls (or just pay them a visit in person…they’re easy to find on Main Street). What can Go Buy Local do for your co-op or business? Click here to get the conversation started!