Back in the early 70's she owned Food for Thought, a natural food store with her best friend, my Aunt Lorraine. The store was a thrill for my senses. The smell of herbs. The taste of real ginger ale. The sight of my mom — doing it for herself. And for us.
We were vegetarians, I still am (though I admit to an occasional piece of fish). We were into earthy stuff and healthy food. We made yogurt, dehydrated fruit, grew sprouts… you get the picture. It’s hard to know exactly how old I was, maybe kindergarten? Not sure. But even at that young age, I knew she and therefore we, stood for something. Maybe I didn't have the words, but the feeling was there. We were being thoughtful about our food choices. How it was grown, where it came from, and the quality of the taste. We were a band of sisters, making our way.
The store only lasted a year or two. Maybe it was the location? More likely, it was the cultural challenges these young, female entrepreneurs faced. After all, it was the early 70's and my mother was a divorced, single mom trying to sell 'non-traditional' products. No matter, my foundation was built. I would forever gravitate toward people and organizations who pushed barriers with good intent.
Fast forward 43 years. After a long run at a company that shared my sense of social and environmental responsibility, and indeed helped me build on and expand my ethos, I found myself unemployed. My mother had recently passed and I was about to send the youngest of my three boys off to college. There would never be a better time for me to do something that mattered. I knew what I wanted to do.
Finding ethically-sourced green products had always been a challenge. Options were limited and expensive, both online and in-store. I wanted to shop at a store with products I could trust and with a robust selection of the items I used at home — all in one place, at a price that was fair. What’s Good was born.
The name came quickly because it was already in our family’s vernacular when we discussed eco-friendly products. Our tag line, Shop with Purpose, is a nod to our marketplace. It's also a mantra for all the socially conscious shoppers out there. I know you, because I am you. We look to see where our products are made. We spend hours in stores because we're read ingredients. We care what the manufacturer does with its profits and how it treats its employees. We understand the power of our dollar, sometimes driving to multiple stores or paying more, just to register our vote.
What's Good offers an ever growing collection of products that I personally use or that come highly recommended from friends and customers that we then put to the test. Like my Aunt Mary, a life long consumer of good products. If she says it’s good, it’s good.
What’s Good is still new so there's lots of opportunity to grow and to do things better. Our vision is to significantly increase the number of products we offer, including refillable items, gift bundles, and personal care products. We are always working to increase our content so that we can become not just a trusted resource for products, but a source of information to help you navigate the complicated world of social and eco responsibility. And, to better serve our local shoppers, we'll be opening a larger retail store in 2023.
You might be interested to know that shopwhatsgood.com is dedicated to my mom, Kathy Gardner. When I look back at her sweet store, I see the first light that guided my spirit. And I remember that gutsy lady who shaped this little girl into a gutsy woman. Thanks, Mom.
And thanks to you too for being a part of the What's Good adventure.
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