Mission & History

Our Mission is to serve you!

Kent Natural Foods Cooperative Philosophy and Purpose:

We believe in operating a responsible cooperative market that provides healthful, natural foods and products at fair prices. Our cooperative will provide bulk, chemical-and-additive free foods and products, locally and/or organically grown whenever possible. We believe in cooperation, open processes, information-sharing, community outreach, education, and consensus decision-making.

To further these ends, we encourage members and the community to respect the dignity of ourselves and others, without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, politics, sexual preference, place of origin, social, marital, economic, or health status.

A Community-Centered Business

History of Kent Natural Foods Co-op

Kent Natural Foods has experienced many incarnations over its more than forty-year history. Formed as a buying club in the early seventies, members picked up their special orders at locations including the Unitarian Universalist church on Gougler St. Kent Natural Foods joined the downtown Kent Community Project, which included a co-op record store and clothing recyclery, eventually moving into the old Kent hotel. After a fire, the store was forced to shrink its inventory and move to North Water Street. Eventually in the eighties, the store moved to Main Street, replacing a jewelry store. Co-op workers knocked out a wall and combined two store spaces to form the current store.

The store functioned as a worker-owned cooperative, but lacked the capital to function smoothly. When cash was short, workers were paid in food. As dedicated workers moved on, there was not enough worker interest to keep the store open. It was at this point that a community group, including Rick Hawksley, William Schultz, Amie Pierre, Hal Walker, Cindy Bissell, Karyn Elkanich, Kurt Rieppel, Brian Willmott and others stepped in. The group solicited membership donations and set the store on the current path to member ownership.

Founding members contributed between $35 and $50 toward store ownership, and in 1992 the co-op purchased the Main St. storefront from Ralph Oates on a land contract for $90,000. Governance was by consensus, and staff members were a dominant force in formalizing store policies and procedures. Over the last twenty years, more than $75,000 have been put into capital improvements, resulting in a modern store using computerized systems, with an exquisitely tiled floor, that still conveys a homespun charm.

Staff and hours have expanded, and inventory has grown by leaps and bounds. Several new freezers and coolers have been purchased, and KNFC continues to build relationships with quality vendors and local farmers. Help us grow the store by becoming a member-owner! Our future plans include electrical upgrades, expansion of the sales floor and improvements to the checkout lanes.

Share your stories with us at knfcoop@gmail.com.