Mother Earth’s Storehouse redefines what it means to be a full service grocery store. In their case, it doesn’t mean daunting box store mega-mart with interminable aisles, long lines, and un-personalized service. It means a small chain of stores where you can schedule a free personal shopping tour tailored to gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian diets with healthy eating educators Jahnavi or Jennifer. It means their website is chock full of useful things from recipes to health and fitness tips, to wellness news articles, and much much more. It means the highest quality organic and natural products, and top shelf customer service. It means a Health Eating Education Center which hosts several events per week to teach people about cooking with local, nutritional, and seasonal ingredients.
Mother Earth’s Storehouse was founded in 1978. The Schneider family had a longstanding interest in nutrition and natural foods. Chris Schneider says, “We started right off the bat with natural and organic products, nothing mainstream. At that time there weren’t really many outlets for such products.” Their first store was in Kings Mall in Kingston.
In the past three decades Mother Earth’s has grown to have three different locations—Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Saugerties. The business is still family—co-owners and brothers Chris and Kevin Schneider are still involved in the day-to-day operations.
Mother Earth’s has not always offered the vast educational programming they do today. Chris Schneider says the idea occurred to them a couple years ago. “It just seemed like a natural extension of what we do here already. A lot of customers are looking for more information.” Taking this to account, they developed the elements they are known for including their cooking classes and informational website. As for their site’s usefulness, Chris says, “We get a lot of hits. We are also going to be updating. So there will be more information and more resources.”
Chris enjoys the fast past of the grocery industry. He says, “I love seeing all the new products and the new developments. The food landscape is constantly changing.” As far as whether these changes are for the better, he thinks, “The state of food is generally moving in a good direction. Things get a little more clouded when you have the big businesses constantly trying to lower standards, whereas most of the companies that we work with are trying to make standards more stringent.” He acknowledges that standards are intimately connected with the scale of a company’s operation.
Chris and Kevin are active community members and philanthropists. Since 2009 Mother Earth’s Storehouse has donated a total of $232,000 to the Northeast Food Bank. Chris says, “We try to support as many groups as we can—even smaller, local donation requests. We get a lot of requests from schools and other organizations. We try to help them out with gift cards. We really really do a lot of gift cards.”
What a better way to give after all? Everyone needs to eat!