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Menomonie Market Launches Meet The Locals Program

Supporting local is always top of mind when our managers set goals for Menomonie Market Food Co-op each year, but during the five-year visioning process that our General Manager Crystal described in this article from our May/June issue, our team was in agreement from the beginning that we wanted to set more specific measurable goals to take our support of local suppliers to a new level by 2026. After much discussion, we narrowed down our many ideas to five main goals in this category, one of which is to officially launch what we’re calling our new Meet The Locals Program—an initiative we’ll use to grow our sales of local products and more effectively connect you, our shoppers, with our local suppliers through story-telling.

Although projects in this program will span across multiple departments, much of what we’ll be working on lands in Marketing (my department), so I was tasked with drafting a vision of this new program. I dreamed big and sent a copy back to our Development Team; then after more back and forth, we got our Meet The Locals program on paper with over twenty new goals set that will help us bring it to life.

Parts of the program have already been rolled out, but here’s some of what will be coming over the next few years:

• Marketing: We will be installing large format signs featuring local vendor bios at the ends of many of our aisles, as well as smaller coordinating signs at-shelf by local products. These smaller signs will also include QR codes that you can scan with your smart phone’s camera to access new local vendor pages on our website where you can learn more about them, view which of their products we carry, buy them online, and find out where they’re located in-store.

In addition to adding new signage and web pages, we’ll also be devoting more of our social media posts to local, showing more local products in advertisements, giving away more local product samples, and launching a podcast featuring interviews with local farmers and producers. Our hope is that everywhere you look, whether in-store or online, you’ll see local and that it will be easier than ever to shop.

• Giving: By 2026, we intend to increase the total amount awarded through our Fund Our Foodshed Grant Program to $20K each year. And this would be in addition to another $15K we hope to give back to our local community through our various donation programs.

• Reporting: Starting this year, we will be tracking and sharing more data on our support of local suppliers. This will involve sharing stats on new department web pages, tracking the sale of local products during big promotions, and reporting on local sales in a few different mediums.

• Purchasing: The toughest of all our goals but one we’re determined to meet is that at least 37% of the products we sell by 2026 will be local. To achieve this, our buyers will focus on building stronger relationships with local suppliers, sourcing local as often as is feasible while keeping prices accessible to everyone, and setting goals to increase local sales in each department.

As a grocer owned by its community, our store’s mission over the last forty-seven years has been rooted in supporting local, and it will continue to be our focus as we grow in the future with renewed vigor. We hope you’re as excited as we are to Meet The Locals.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2021 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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