We talked to: Cornucopia
We recently had a great conversation with Jade and Nate (and their daughter, Maya!) from Cornucopia. We love their energy and commitment to their business as well as to Northampton.
How long has Cornucopia been open? What made you decide to take over the business?
The store has been open since 1980. We took over on March 18th of this year, after a few years of working closely with Bud Stockwell and Sydney Flum-Stockwell to establish a strong foundation and smooth transfer process. We started dating over 10 years ago and right from the start, we sensed we would make a great team in business as well. We weren’t sure exactly what we wanted to do, so we toyed with the idea of an artist gallery, beer brewing, farm, etc. Nate was working at Whole Foods at the time, then got a job with Cambridge Naturals as a grocery buyer. When a grocery buyer position became available at Cornucopia, Michael Kanter, the owner of Cambridge Naturals, reached out to Bud on Nate’s behalf. Nate got the job, but was going back and forth between Cambridge and Northampton for a while until we settled in this area. After working there for a while, Bud and Sydney invited us out to dinner one night. We had this “what if” conversation before we met them about how incredible it would be if they would one day pass the torch to us. So when they broached the topic over dinner at Paul & Elizabeth’s, it seemed meant to be.
What do you love most about the local business community?
We have received so much support and positivity since we took ownership. People reached out, gave us gift cards, and made us feel incredibly welcome. Because of this warm welcome, we want to continue to move forward and offer what people need and want, without alienating the regulars who have been coming here for years. We want to do right by the community, and we truly have a vested interest in seeing this business succeed. We know we could not do this on our own, and we appreciate all of the advice and encouragement we’ve already received from other business owners. We’re also glad we took our time taking over the business from Bud and Sydney, as we established a really solid business model in the three and a half years it took us to become owners. We feel like other businesses in Northampton might benefit from this type of “passing of the torch” model, rather than feeling like a business will just cease to exist if the owners retire. We feel so thankful to Bud and Sydney for what they’ve done for us--we feel like this process has been both challenging and incredibly positive and we continue to learn so much from the experience.
What do you love/appreciate most about Northampton in general?
We regard it as one of those special places where you can be completely who you are. We appreciate that diversity and individuality are truly celebrated and encouraged here. The world is a challenging and scary place in many ways at this point in time, but we feel like Northampton is a great place for us to raise our family and create humans who are empathetic, loving, and kind.
What positive changes do you see happening here and in Cornucopia as a business?
Northampton is becoming more and more diverse, and we’re interested in reaching a more diverse customer base by staying abreast of new products that fulfill everyone’s needs. For example, we will be introducing a new hair care line called Femme Noire that caters to natural hair, and we’ll have new cosmetic lines that will cover a wider range of skin tones. We’re also happy to be able to offer some great, organic CBD products, as everything from beverages to tinctures are in high demand these days. We also love that we have some long-time team members who are devoted to this store and committed to seeing it continue to evolve and grow. For instance, Brian (Asst Wellness Buyer), has been with us for over 10 years, our accountant Melissa has been here 20 years, Christine, our General Manager, over 20, years and Iain, our “supplement wizard”, has been here for 37 years. We feel incredibly fortunate to have that kind of commitment, support, and knowledge on our side!
Are there any upcoming events you are excited about?
We’re looking forward to the self-care workshop we are running with BZ Catalano from BodyZen Skincare & Wellness on Sunday, September 8th. We’ve known BZ for years, and we love the passion she brings to her holistic skin care and ayurvedic bodywork business. We also have a potential workshop to look forward to in October in partnership with Our Journey, a community wellness business based in Springfield that offers nutritional counseling, exercise classes, and meal plans.