Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Co-operatively dreaming...

Hi Everyone!

My goodness, how is this sunshine???  It has been almost a month since the last time I posted and lots has happened in our life...  I have really had to reevaluate what my dream is and the best way to make it happen.  Sky Valley Natural Market needs to become a reality in Monroe - it is way past time!  There are TOO MANY of us out here who want and need this alternative.  As I have stated before, the dream for me is more that just a market, it is also a place for community, for gathering, for sharing and learning information to make our world a better place.  We need a space for our deep vein of progressive-minded people to be...

Up until this point I have really felt that I want to pursue this on my own, as my own private business.  I am now realizing that this is not the best way to make this happen.  Many of you have approached me asking if this was a "co-op" idea and I said no, I'm going at it as a sole-proprietor.  Now I am beginning to realize that the true spirit of this adventure is co-operative!  The creation of this market should be FOR our community, BY our community...  Yes, I absolutely want to remain in the thick of it, using the skills I have to press on and make it happen, but we all need to take a bit of the dream and lift it up into reality.  What do you think?

So, I know that some of you have been involved in the discussion about getting a natural food store here, what did you find out?  Where did your work lead you?  I am thinking I need to get in touch with Sno-Isle in Everett and see how we can work with them.  There has got to be grants out there for this kind of "green community building" project, and I happen to have a grant writer in my family (yes you, Jaime).  Please if you are reading this and you know ANYTHING about forming a coop, get in touch with me.  There are so many people reading this blog that I just KNOW collectively we have the skills to see this through!

So that is the latest from my head.  Sky Valley Food Co-op?  Monroe Food Co-op?  Sno-Isle East?


So let's do it!

Looking forward to hearing from you all :)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reality Check

Hello friends and supporters...  It is with a slightly sad heart that I write this post...  I am going to need to postpone the opening date of Sky Valley Market until sometime in 2010.  Gosh, that seems like forever from now...  The reality of the situation is that my enthusiasm, my vision, my goals - these are not enough.  I also need some money.  Not only that, my family needs to be in better financial standing to take the risk of starting this venture.

I am 100% convinced this business will be a success and I can't WAIT to bring it to our community.  This is something I am WHOLEHEARTEDLY committed to doing.  I believe that giving it more time will increase that success...  For those of you who have been waiting FOREVER for a natural food store to come to Monroe, I am one of you, and I am sorry if this news is disappointing.  Please don't give up on me and my passion!!!

So there are plans in the works and goals set to carry on the progress and work I have done toward the creation of the market...  I am still meeting with the the Small Business Development Center, two weeks from today,  to learn about opportunities for finding funding.  I am planning on doing some really fun fundraising events over the next year to grow the "market nest egg" (anyone know the rules about fundraising?).  I will continue to post to this blog, and ask for feedback.

This is my dream.  This will happen.
Thanks for listening :)


Friday, April 17, 2009

Saving Money

Is this on everyone's mind?  I had a wonderful friend come through town last weekend - she is one of my "thrifty idols."  She is just amazing, so frugal, a thrify store goddess...  We had lots of conversations about how to save money.  One thing she spoke about was how much they save by shopping at Costco.  Costco has begun to zero in on the demand from the people and is stocking lots of organic and natural foods.  Great right?  So why can't I shake off my resistance and join the crowd?

Does Costco Corporate care about the communities they serve?  Maybe they do.  Does Costco support other local businesses?  Maybe they do.  Does Costco care about their affect on the earth and take that into consideration when shipping/buying their goods?  Maybe they do.  Does Costco put the people they serve and employ ahead of the almighty dollar?  Maybe they do.  But I am thinking they probably don't do these things...

When do you get to the point that the money saving is more important that the community, the people, the earth?  Believe me, we do not have a lot of money.  And I REALLY need to figure out how to spend it better.  But I just don't know if Costco is the answer.  Plus, I have faith that the people in our community will walk into the doors of my market and spend their money because they believe in me and our community.  How can I shop at Costco and still expect people to shop at Sky Valley Natural Market?

So my plan is this - I will do everything in  my power to make SVNM affordable.  I will work with my customers (YOU) in finding ways to give the best deals possible.  I do have to pay bills and a few employees to stay open, so keep that in mind, but I am open, really open, to ideas on how to keep prices down and how to keep my people coming in the door.

I am working on making an appointment with the Small Business Development Center in Edmonds.  We continue to move forward!

Thanks for reading my ramble :)
Smiles ~ Casey

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It feels like it may be spring...

Hi everyone!

Doesn't it feel good today???  I realize my thermometer only reads 53 outside, but we did wake up to clear skies and a beautiful sunrise...  maybe spring is ready to make an appearance?  I sure hope so - tomorrow IS the beginning of "spring break" and all...

So what is going on with the market?  I have been getting this question a lot lately.  I did finish my business class and now have a business plan.  What I plan on doing in the next month or so is to go to the Small Business Development Center to try and work with them in securing a loan.  We all know how crazy the economy is right now, so getting a loan is going to take some time.  And obviously, having money is crucial to starting the business.

While we are on the economy, I want to be clear to you all, I am going to open the doors to this business at a time when I think it will succeed.  I mean, I'm not doing anyone any favors if I open too soon and have to go out of business because my timing is off.  I would love to open in mid to late September.  This is a change from the early August projection...  September would work better for me because that gives me a chance to get my kids settled into their school routine before the craziness of juggling my family needs with the market.

I have also sent a note to the owners of the old Papa Mia's building on Main Street to find out some more information about the space and costs.  This was very exciting because when I peeked in the window there, I saw how  I visualize the market to be!  Space for people to gather, kids to play, space for the market goods.  There is also a commercial kitchen there so I have asked a good friend if she would be into doing some prepared food (salads, sandwiches). This is all so so exciting...  Hopefully the people who own the building will understand the goodness I am trying to bring to our community and support me with a reasonable lease!

Please continue to keep up with the blog, and pass the blog address around!  We are also on Facebook @ The Friends of Sky Valley Natural Market.  I noticed as well, for those of you interested in making comments to my post, you can comment as "anonymous" and it's real easy - please, your comments are ENCOURAGED and WELCOME!

Happy sunny day to you all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The 2009 Natural Product Expo was AMAZING!

Hello Friends!

Oh my goodness...  I am writing fresh from the greatest experience thus far in the Sky Valley Natural Market journey!  I spent all day Saturday in Anaheim, Ca at the 2009 Natural Product Expo West.  Thanks to my sweet friend Jazz (www.wet-noses.com ~ check it out if you have a dog) I was able to attend the trade show at no cost to me.  I flew down Friday evening and walked the show with my dear friend Susie and her posse of amazing women (www.bigbearhealthfood.com - my mentor in creating "market magic" :) ).  I learned so much and had a GREAT TIME!'

So the really good news is that there are so many small companies out there with such amazing products, really trying to make a difference in the world.  What was really exciting was that this industry is really big - I mean, the show itself took over the entire Anaheim Convention Center which is no small feat!  I had so many tasty samples and spoke with so many wonderful people, it was really inspirational...  Allergy free foods were very well represented, as well as product made especially for kids.  There is really a wealth of companies out there who are not represented in the larger chain stores here in town - yipee!

One of the insights I had while at the show was that there are some really great products coming out of California, as well as other places across the country.  When I think about keeping things local, I also want to balance that with supporting small companies with yummy food to share.  As I think about my inventory, my goal is to keep produce from Snohomish county, meat from Washington state, bulk/baking goods from the PNW and prepackaged goods from the west coast as much as possible, but stay open to small, American companies that need our support...  Does this sound good to you all?  Its all a learning process for me, but I am LOVING the ride!!!

Another thing that I have been playing around with lately is having a place in the market where I highlight one of the companies whose products I carry.  I want to share with YOU the reasons I do what I do...  Also, in that same area, highlighting a local farm as well.  This is really exciting to me, as part of my vision for the market is to create a place for networking and education.

Okay, time to pick up my boy from school,
Until next post,


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What do I know?

Hi Everyone!

I have begun a list of inventory I plan on purchasing to fill our store...  It is a daunting task...  It assumes that I know what you all want.  I feel as though I have a good idea - you have been great about sending in postcards and filling out the surveys on the blog...  However, it still remains a bit of a guessing game.

For example, many of you have shared that you would like grass-fed, organic beef - there are a million cuts of beef for me to choose from!  Seriously - not a million but MANY!  And what about flour?  Again, there is so much to choose from!  Its all good, I don't mind guessing :)  I just know you will all be patient with me as I navigate my way into this business.  Remember that you all dictate what is offered at the market...  It won't take long before what I offer matches what you need.  Continue the feedback and we will make it work :)

We are blessed with sunshine this afternoon, so I am going out to play...  Thank you all for your continued support!

All love ~ Casey

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hey everyone, sorry it has been so long...  As I write my two children are creating havoc around me...  ahhhh, kids...  They make life so much more interesting!  

Speaking of kids, I received some surprising information about my son recently.  He is an energetic three year old who always seems to be wiping his nose on his sleeve - seriously, the snot never seems to go away.  Recently he has also been suffering from some rashes.  WE went to our naturopath and did a blood test to look for food allergies.  Guess what the results were? He has an intolerance to fish, FRUIT, and the combination of dairy and grains.  

Yes, you read that right, FRUIT.  All fruit.  Well, all fruit with the exception of melons.  So just in case anyone was wondering about my commitment to seeing this market project through, that commitment level just went through the roof.  I mean, it is nearly impossible to find foods with no fruit in it - citric acid?  Fruit. Ascorbic acid?  Fruit.  Olive oil?  Olives are fruit. Fructose and date sugar?  Fruit.  Can I have all the Moms out there with kids who have food allergies give me a woo-woo?  I have joined the club...

So what does this mean for the market?  Well, it might mean that I am going to have to find a source for melons in January...  Ultimately what it means is that I will be even more diligent with my product purchasing.  Obviously, some of the products wont be purchased with my families needs in mind, but those of you suffering from food intolerances and allergies should know that your needs will be met.

That being said, if anyone would like to share some brands you have found that meet the needs of the food allergy group, please let me know.  This market is for us all, the more I know about what you want, the better a place it will be.

Until next time,