Marketplace Monday: Outpost Natural Foods Co-op in Mequon

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Local, organic, community, sustainable and cooperative may seem like the latest buzz words, but Outpost has been embracing all of those concepts since their start in 1970 on East Kane Street in Milwaukee.  Now, 44 years, three stores, two cafes, and over 18,000 owners later, they’re bringing it to Oz.

The largest and greenest of all the Outpost Natural Foods Co-ops opened in Mequon today, on the northeast corner of Mequon and Wauwatosa Roads, to an anxiously awaiting crowd, who happily participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony, led by Outpost’s General Manager, Pam Mehnert.

The Mequon store exemplifies Outpost’s commitment to the environment:  they reused and re-purposed many of the building materials from the buildings that were on the site prior to construction, from the  Lannon stone on the exterior to the boards used for signage inside; rainwater will be stored in underground cisterns and used to water the gardens; LED lighting & use of natural light from windows and skylights save energy; porous walkways and sections of pavement in the parking lot will drain into the rain gardens, which will manage storm water onsite — they even added a recycling center and electric charging station.

“We’re going for Gold LEED Certification,” said Mehnert.  “We’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint by doing those things that are really good and really right.”

As with all of Outpost’s stores, there is a massive commitment to local food, and customers will find a wide range of products (not just beer and cheese!) from Wisconsin.  The goal with all of Outpost’s locations is to reduce the miles to market to less than 100 miles for 50% of the local food offerings, and to make 75% of their sales from local or regional products.

“We’re not just selling groceries; we’re here to create [a] dynamic local food system,” explained  Mehnert.

One of the really amazing things about the Mequon store is that it was funded almost entirely with local money, mainly through the sale of stock to Outpost owners and through Fund Milwaukee, a group of investors who put their money into local projects and businesses.  In these years of economic decline, Outpost’s business model has not only kept them from sinking, it has helped them to thrive.  They have succeeded in proving again and again that business practices that are best for the community, the environment, and your health can also be the most profitable.

Ozaukee Magazine welcomes Outpost Natural Foods Co-op to the wonderful land of Oz.  May your future continue to be bright, and may you always stay true to your cooperative roots!

Ozaukee Magazine is a digital services and lifestyle publication focusing on families, art, culture, health, and the landscape surrounding our small business communities.

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