GROW Turns 7!
I remember the day we signed our first lease. The kids were running around the empty space and I thought, “this is either the best idea I’ve ever had, or the worst.” After six months in business I was thinking the latter, and secretly told myself that if things didn’t turn around in the next three months we’d shut our doors.
Not long after that 6 month mark a customer said, “You need a hook.” “What hook,” I thought. We sell fruit. Little did we know that our ‘hook’ had a bright green stem and a sweet cherry on the end of it. A month later our first order of GROW cherries arrived. Two days later another order arrived, then another and another. From that day forward GROW Cherries meant something. Quality. We slept a lot easier in May of 2007. It made sense that cherries saved GROW, since the idea for the shop came from our son selling cherries in front of our house on 33rd Street. You can read about Brendan’s stand here.
Looking at pictures of GROW when we first opened, you can see how much we’ve grown. We’ve more than tripled the number of items we carry. So many of those additions have come from customer requests: “Would you carry this?” “Have you thought about adding meat and fish?” “I’d love it if you have really delicious gluten-free…..” “My kids love…”
With the additions came inquiries from local folks asking if we’d sell what they made. Nicole Anderson, a Manhattan Beach mom, came into GROW asking if we would sell her raw bars. Little did we know that we were the first store to carry Elemental Superfood Bars and that you can now find them in over 30 states. Russ Mariano of Manjaman Foods came to us with his dry rubs and sauces made locally in Marina del Rey. One taste and we were sold. And when Patricia Tsai of Chocovivo came to us with her traditional stone ground Mexican chocolate bars, we were skeptical. Sure they were delicious and we loved them, but would our customers like them. Well, you did. And now she has a store of her own in Culver City.
We believe in giving small vendors a chance because you gave us a chance. And it’s something we’ll never stop doing.
Giving back to our community is something we believed in from the start. Both of our kids attended Grand View Elementary at the time, and we made it a point to always help local schools who asked for a donation. In the beginning it wasn’t much, but each year we have increased the amount that we can give back to our schools. There isn’t a race in town, parent night, or school auction that GROW has not supported in the last 7 years. This week we are giving 7% of each transaction back to the local school of the customer’s choosing.
We’ve heard a lot of stories form our customers getting asked by their children, “Is this from GROW?” Their kids will take a bite of a cherry, or peach or orange and ask. The parent inevitably explains that they were at a big store buying laundry detergent or paper towels, and they picked up some fruit while they were there. That fruit then goes uneaten. Now, while we never promote waste, we secretly derive a little bit of joy in knowing that GROW played a part in molding a generation of fruit snobs;) The fact of the matter is that we have created a trust factor with our customers and their children. We want people to buy good food, and we work hard to make sure that we only sell the best. The reason is simple; if you like what you eat you eat you will eat it again. This is never more evident than with fruits and vegetables. We know how important they are to our health, and if children built a poor association with produce and taste, it’s pretty hard to repair. If we offer the beat tasting produce you can find, your kids will enjoy it and have a great foundation and appreciation for their entire life.
What are our future plans?
We get this one a lot.
Home delivery. It has been our primary expansion focus, and we will continue to build upon it in the South Bay and eventually beyond.
Non-GMO. Since the elections in the Fall of 2012, GROW made the decision to succeed where Prop 37 failed. We have contacted every vendor about every ingredient in every product that they supply us. We have built a binder of every reply, and subsequently labeled every product that could not guarantee GMO cleanliness. In addition, we pledged to no longer bring in new items from any vendor that could not confirm that they didn’t use GMO ingredients. And lastly, GROW is the first grocery store in Southern California to label any existing item that potentially contains GMO ingredients.
In the future we will continue to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to food integrity, and offering our customers the food choices they want and deserve.
Kathy and I find it hard to believe that it’s been seven years since we opened GROW. Then we think of our customers and how their lives have changed. We have seen people get married, have children, babies start walking, kids running, and then off to school. We have seen employees start their first jobs at GROW, graduate high-school, and go off to college. Still others that have started part time at the shop, and now run and manage entire departments. Individually these actions may not sound like much, but GROW is a part of peoples’ lives and part of a greater community- and that means a lot to us.
We thank you for all your support these past seven years, and look forward to serving you for many more to come.