|Store Name Just Food Co-op
A truly local alternative to big box grocersBusiness Type Food and Beverage Stores
NAICS Code 445
Location 516 Water St, Northfield, MN 55057
Nearby Businesses Forget-Me-Not Florists, Secret Attic Gift Shop, Mr. Movies, Econofoods, Pizazz Hair Salon, China Buffet
Owner/Manager Cooperatively owned by 1,600 community members
Special Store Activities Eat Local Challenge
Year Opened 2004
Community Profile Northfield (City Population: 17,500, 10 mile radius Population: 30,000) is a college town located in southeastern Minnesota, 40 miles south of the Twin Cities. Northfield is home to two small, private colleges, Carleton College and St. Olaf College. These two institutions sustain the economy of Northfield because of the business generated by the students and by visitors to the two schools. Visitors to Northfield can experience the quaint, independently-owned shops of the town’s downtown district or the natural beauty in Carleton College’s 880 acre Arboretum, while remaining close to the big-city attractions of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Products Sold & Niche Developed
Just Food is a full-service natural foods grocer, featuring organic and locally produced items. Just Food has been able to compete against two big box grocers in the Northfield area by offering all of the products that a chain would—produce, dairy, packaged goods, meat, cheese, grains, herbs, frozen foods and more—and by having higher standards for the quality of the food. Just Food prefers to buy from the local vendors over the mass-producing vendors because of the quality of the product and the economic benefit to the community, and as such, 25% of the food sold at Just Food is locally produced. The attention to quality and local food also provides shoppers an opportunity to buy food that they cannot find at larger stores. In addition to food, Just Food also offers a selection of health and body care items in their wellness department. Another feature that separates this business from a nation-wide grocer is that Just Food is cooperatively owned by 1,600 community members. Their open, democratically controlled membership controls store policy, making the store very accommodating to the wishes of the Northfield community. Just Food has developed a niche as the primary natural food store for residents of Northfield, Faribault and Cannon Falls and as the only locally-owned grocer in Northfield. This business has changed the way many people shop for groceries because of their selection and small size; a lot of their customers don’t just come to the store, get what they need and leave promptly—most browse the unique selection of foods and talk with other customers or store employees.
Market Segments Served
Because Just Food is owned by community members, it serves primarily the Northfield community. Just Food also strives to keep its prices as low as possible to make the store available to people of all economic backgrounds. The selection of specialty foods at this business also regularly draws customers from surrounding towns, such as Faribault, and even as far as the Twin Cities.
Contributions to the Business Community
Just Food specifically selected a location that was close to the main business district in Northfield to help promote local shopping and to incorporate with other businesses. Just Food serves as a distribution point for locally produced food, thereby encouraging the economic success of farms in the area and the re-circulation of money within the Northfield community. Just Food is also an active member of the Northfield Chamber of Commerce and promotes restaurants that use locally produced products. People who come to Just Food from outside the Northfield area have easy access to all of the other Northfield businesses, such as the numerous coffee shops and restaurants
Review by: Danny Bruce, UW Extension CCED