Linda Fritz-Murphy, Purchasing Lead at New Pioneer, has an important role: selecting products that fit the Co-op's mission and values.
She's always on the lookout for food and personal produts that are fair trade, organic and sustainable, but her number one goal is to find local products.
"We're doing what we can to be a good partner for small, local vendors,"
Customers often suggest vendors they encounter at farmers markets, which helps New Pi grow its list of local suppliers. Fritz-Murphy is more than happy to take these suggestions.
"We're owned by the community, and we're a reflection of the community,"
As an added benefit, local foods are easier on the environment, according to Fritz-Murphy.
Not every product can be locally sourced, so Fritz-Murphy looks for brands that are making positive changes in their area of the world.
Fair trade products shoot to the top of her list.
Customers who purchase products with this emblem can trust that the producers or farmers were paid a fair price—even if they're half a world away.
Over 80% of the products in the store are organic, but Fritz-Murphy said customers today are looking for more than just organic food.
They want products that are also sustainable, right down to the package they come in.
"Packaging has become more and more important, including compostable packaging,"
Even if a product checks every box, it still has to taste good.
"If it tastes like cardboard, it's hard to imagine it's going to make our customers happy,"
The team at New Pi is constantly testing the products to make sure they meet their standards—and satisfy their taste buds
With limited space compared to big box stores, New Pi has to be selective.
But that's really the whole goal.
"We have a tighter focus and a more curated set of products,"
Because it works with so many local people, New Pi often serves as an incubator of sorts for up-and-coming products-products that might eventually find their way to big box stores.
But that's okay with Fritz-Murphy.
After all, there will always be new products to incubate. And when customers discover new products (or just buy their everyday groceries) at New Pi, their dollars stay local.
"Any dollars you spend at New Pi are staying in the community,"