Story and photos provided by Tausha Hyatt, Contributing Writer
Green Acres Market is one of many options for healthy eating in Stillwater. Originally Nature’s Supply, the store was founded by Lori Edgmand in a basement in downtown Stillwater. As her customer base grew, she was able to move into the current location and expand further. Over time she has accumulated many regular customers and opened doors for the community to be able to have access to local, organic, and gluten-free foods.
About two years ago, Lori decided to merge with Green Acres, a small chain that has only eight stores. By merging with Green Acres, they were able to expand their buying power in order to provide better prices for the consumer. As Green Acres, they are now capable of supplying Stillwater with a larger range of organic and gluten-free foods.
Lori stayed on as manager for a few months and then retired passing the management position onto her daughter, Stephanie Simpson.
Green Acres carries a lot of local foods as well. “Whether it’s salsa, fresh produce, or meats, our main focus is to provide high quality and local produce when we can. Ninety percent of our produce has gone through the certification process to be labeled organic,” said assistant manager Preston Griffith. The other ten percent is provided by a local farmer, where it is not profitable for them to go through the certification process because they’re just a small farm, but we know that they raise their products cleanly and they’re not using chemicals or pesticides on their produce. There are some farms in Kansas that provide a lot of produce that we sell here and they are not certified organic, but we have toured their farms and been able to see how they grow produce,” Preston stated.
They also offer Fairview’s best products, Cattle Tracks, in which they provide beef products that are local and certified organic. “We like to support people who are making an effort to provide local and organic products to our community and our state,” Preston mentioned. Thayer Farms also provides eggs from Perkins, along with two or three other farms from the same area that have all been licensed as well.
“Customer service is the thing that we focus on the most. Trying to provide a great shopping experience and have a warm inviting environment when you walk into the store is our number one priority. That’s the main thing that makes us unique,” Preston stated.
Green Acres has a small staff of 11-12 employees who are knowledgeable about the products that they carry.
“We try to focus on hiring high-quality people. Not saying that their knowledge base has to be perfect because they can definitely be trained, they just have to be willing to learn and be capable of providing the best customer service. We look for people who have the heart to serve other people. We provide them the best information that we can so that they can provide it to our customers and be able to help them find what they need. We have trainings that are offered through some of our product companies and trainings through Green Acres as well. Some of it is just doing some reading and being curious,” Preston explained.
When Lori started the store about eleven years ago, the pricing was very limited for any type of organic foods that you can get. Those options and the demand have expanded.
“Just by being here, we have made a very positive impact on the community.” Preston went on to explain, “As a lot people have found out about food allergies and gluten sensitivities, a lot of people come in at their wits end and don’t know what they can eat or what options that they have. We are able to walk with them and show them the different products that we have and let them know that they can do this and not everything is going to taste horrible for the rest of their lives. That’s part of our ‘one person at a time’ philosophy. Green Acres is impacting change and educating people just ‘one person at a time’. We’ve been proud to help people where they need it.”
Green Acres has partnered with the Humane Society and Tiny Paws to help raise money for their causes. They have also helped TSET provide healthy options to people who can’t afford them. They even started accepting SNAP benefits, so that people with a lower income can afford the items that they carry. “We do everything that we can to impact the community in a positive way,” Preston stated.