Au natural

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative strives to provide the best natural and organic food in Milwaukee. The cooperative has a store on Capitol Drive in Milwaukee, on State Street in Wauwatosa and plans to open its third location this summer in a former Kohl’s grocery store at 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.
When Milwaukee-based Outpost first opened shop in 1970, there were no other grocery store in the area like it.
Now, Austin, Tex.-based Whole Foods plans to open a store on Milwaukee’s east side at North and Prospect avenues.
"Before us, there wasn’t a place in Milwaukee for people to get food grown without synthetic pesticides and other chemicals," said Margaret Bert, director of communications for Outpost.
Outpost has a unique business model, both in the products it sells and in its ownership structure.
"We are a consumer-owned cooperative," said Heather Albinger, president of Outpost’s board of directors. "Our customers have a say as owners in that co-op, and they all have an equal voice."
Any interested customer can become a part owner in the cooperative by paying $25 annually.
"We currently have almost 11,500 members of the community who are owners," Bert said. "The owners are especially important to us, since they give us strong feedback. They let us know what they like and what they don’t like about our store and our products, and we listen."
This gives Outpost the unique position of serving and answering to community members, rather than corporate shareholders. According to Albinger, the Outpost system takes customer service to a higher level.
"Our mission is for our owners to have a sense of connectedness, belonging and fellowship with one another," said Albinger.
Outpost would remain successful "to the extent that we remain connected to those people," she said.
Outpost continually strives to build a strong, helpful and sustainable community, Albinger and Bert said.
Outpost is ready to compete with the Whole Foods store planned for the East Side, Bert said.
"We do believe there is enough grocery business to go around for everyone, and no business needs to suffer when stores such as (Whole Foods) come to town," Bert said. "Healthy competition keeps us on our toes. Outpost will strive to continue to be the trusted advocate for quality, delicious, organic and GMO-free foods that we have always been. Our business focus will continue to be on solid customer service and being community-based and accessible."

Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
Location: Administrative offices, 205 W. Highland Ave., Suite 501, Milwaukee.
Store locations: 100 E. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee; 7000 W. State St., Wauwatosa; and 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee (opening late summer 2005).
Year established: 1970
Main products/services: Organic and natural foods
Number of employees: 248
Web Page: www.outpostnaturalfoods.coop

June 24, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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