The consumer call for organic food has been heard. Grocery chains throughout metropolitan areas are ramping up their organic offerings, though some rural areas have been left wanting. New Prague, Minnesota is a town of about 7500 that sits 45 miles southeast of Minneapolis, and is one of those locations whose organic options were limited. Motivated by a desire to have local, organic produce available in town, Kendra and Paul Rasmussen decided to find a way to bring natural, organic foods to their community.
After some difficulties navigating licensing and finding suppliers, that idea is now a reality—Farmhouse Market garnered the support from 230 members in just its first four months of existence. Membership costs $99 a year (and includes 24 hour access via a key card a la 24 hours gyms), and the market is also open to non-members about 9 hours a week. The owners use technology to monitor stock levels from home, which allows them to reach out to suppliers sooner when supplies are low. Farmers and suppliers have their own key cards to ease their deliveries to fit into any schedule.
Though a success in New Prague, questions arise regarding the transferability of the model. What works for a small town with a lot of industry and surrounded by farmstead, might not garner the same results in a different environment. Still, the success of the model should be acknowledged by other small communities that see price as the biggest barrier to having local, organic, and natural foods available in their own communities.
Market research companies are required to keep an eye on the ever-changing markets we study. Farmhouse Market is both a great example of the importance of organic foods to consumers at this time and as well as the growing influence technology has on how they can shop. The model itself is intriguing to study: by filling in gaps of existing grocery options in New Prague, Farmhouse Market is growing and succeeding. But what is still missing? How could this model be implemented in other demographic locations? As the traditional grocery store itself changes, so too do the competing options. The self-serve model of this store is intriguing and should be monitored as it develops, especially if the model takes root elsewhere.