New Seasons Grocery Store in Portland, Oregon is a neighborhood grocer with a people-first culture.
New Seasons Market partners with local farmers, ranchers, and producers to promote a healthy and sustainable food system. The grocery store was started in 2000 when friends and family united over shared values to form the business. The idea that food connects us creates community are core beliefs that make the market a place to thrive. New Seasons was a B corp before the certification process developed- it is part of the company culture. In 2013 New Seasons Market became the world’s first B Corp grocery store. The certification provides accountability and continuous improvement for the company.
We know community health and community wealth are big keys to our success, and we’re dedicated to putting the power of business to work for good. We remain committed to measuring what matters and understandthat profit is only part of that equation.
New Seasons Market offers a unique retail experience, but what’s it like working for a B corp? Chenoa Philabaum, Community Relations Program Manager, provided the answers.
What’s your favorite thing about working for New Seasons Market?
It’s hard to decide what my favorite thing is about New Seasons Market. When I think about what makes New Seasons Market unique among other places I’ve worked, the Speak Up culture still surprises me after working here for over ten years. Speak Up culture encourages me to share my ideas, thoughts, input, and feedback. In exchange, I have the responsibility to listen—truly—to staff who share ideas, thoughts, input and feedback with me. I manage the community programs here at New Seasons Market, and some of our best programs came from staff who spoke up.
Lend A Hand, our paid community service program and our store-level community representative roles both came from listening to staff and exploring their ideas. Some examples of staff have done include:
- Cooking a meal for homeless youth at HomePlate Youth Services
- Filling and delivering Backpacks for Schoolhouse Supplies
- Planting trees along the Tualatin River with Friends of Trees.
In your opinion was the work to get B corp certified worth having? It seems like New Seasons already had a fantastic community-driven culture before getting approved.
I definitely think becoming a certified B Corp is worth the effort. A company seriously looking at B Lab certification is already “using the power of business for good.” B Corp certification is a third-party verification of existing practices. Before we sought B Corp certification, we didn’t spend a lot of effort measuring our mission. The B Corp certification process helped us kick-start that work. Realizing narrative and anecdotes aren’t the only metric to gauge how much good we are doing in our communities, we now have a continuous mandate to evaluate our impact in more quantitative ways. Like other mission-driven companies, we are always striving to move forward, to do better.
Please share an area where you see the most positive impact of working for a B corp?
The most positive impact of becoming a B Corp is the connectivity between companies redefining success in business. I have been able to share our company successes with fellow B Corp companies, to learn from them, and to experience reciprocity of inspiration. While each B Corp may come from different fields, we are all businesses with similar missions, working to ensure our impact as an employer, a community partner, a vendor, a service, a space, a neighbor is uplifting and positive.
I think to succeed in the future; you’re going to have to authentically embrace beneficial business practices and make them a core part of your company. I think the mission-driven business with a positive social impact is the “next big thing.” What if “the next big thing” isn’t right around the corner? What if it’s already here?