What it Means to Know, Believe and Belong at the Co-op
We’ve just introduced our new tagline at Valley Natural Foods, which is Know, Believe and Belong ™. However, while taglines are supposed to sound cool, be memorable and epitomize the brand experience, some struggle to evoke an authentic vibe. Most sound fun but only exude marketing jibberish.
That is not what we wanted for Valley Natural Foods’ tagline. I can tell you wholeheartedly that when we were designing our tagline, we wanted it to evoke a genuine feeling of what it is really like to shop and be a part of our co-op as a customer. When I spoke to Valley Natural Foods co-op owner John Penrose of Bloomington, MN, our tagline seemed to come to life through his own words without any prodding. In fact, I had no preconceived notion or agenda for our conversation – I just wanted to listen to his story. I hope you can recognize part of your own story in his.
According to Penrose, his health food journey began over five years ago when he discovered that a gluten allergy plagued not only himself, but his daughter and wife. Working in the healthcare industry, Penrose’s wife recognized that more and more people were beginning to suffer from food-related ailments. This prompted Penrose to do a lot of reading and research to Know what types of healthy options represented the smartest choices for his family. The Penrose family came to understand that in addition to eliminating gluten, they also did not want chemicals or GMOs in their food. They also wanted humanely-raised meat and free-range chicken and eggs. In his search for products that met these values, Penrose soon discovered that conventional supermarkets simply didn’t have the selection he was looking for. Eventually, he heard about Valley Natural Foods and thought it was worth checking out.
“We went down there and saw the variety and selection and the staff was helpful and overall it seemed like it was a good store,” added Penrose.
Penrose relayed that he Knew that he could find what he was looking for at Valley Natural Foods. Therefore, knowing seems to mean realizing how one views the co-op as that rich resource of not only knowledge, but quality products. Penrose relayed that quality of life comes down to the quality of the products one purchases.
“Do you care what goes into your body or don’t you?” Penrose exclaims. “That is what it comes down to. Hey, I’m going to take the quality products any day.”
When it comes to Believing, I feel it is more about understanding and believing in how your personal values and the co-op’s coalesce. Belief also comes down to understanding how the co-op has not changed its values from the beginning nor will it waver on them.
“We are going to continue to go there (Valley Natural Foods) because nobody else has been able to come close to offering what you guys are and you continue to keep offering new products and you keep trying to improve what you are doing,” Penrose said. “You are always trying to do anything you can to make the shopping experience a good one every time.”
Through his words, Penrose seems to believe in what the co-op is doing because it fits in with his individual values and what he believes. “You guys just keep doing the right thing every time,” Penrose adds.
However, when it comes to the word Belong, I often feel this term is a bit elusive and it often reverberates through a description of feelings about a person, place or thing. Sometimes these feelings compound unknowingly and people have difficulty pinpointing the exact magnetic quality that draws them to something. I feel this is the case with Penrose but through his words, I know he feels he belongs at Valley Natural Foods.
“We have grown to really love the store,” Penrose explains. “I’ve shopped other competitors and I frankly don’t like their stores as well. I don’t think they offer the selection, variety, pricing, staff or there is something about the layout of the store. It just seems that the store (Valley Natural Foods) has always been a good fit for us across the board. It is just something we feel comfortable with…”
When Penrose spoke of “comfort”, I realized its connection with the word Belong and how having a comfortable, safe place to shop at is incredibly calming in our chaotic world. The co-op genuinely tries to be that beacon for people and that place where they can get a level of service that makes them feel a part of something and not just a random face in the crowd.
Penrose’s feeling of belonging to the store evolved to wanting to become an owner which he admits is a good value, considering it is a one-time, refundable $100 investment that offers owners a 5% discount once a month and many other sales offers.
“I would say to anybody that shops there (Valley Natural Foods) once a month — it’s worth it to join,” he said. “It’s pennies over the long run. It starts to add up in numbers and it’s refundable if you don’t like it. It is also affordable because you can make payments on it!”
I hope that through Penrose’s story, you can understand how our new tagline Know, Believe and Belong™ relates to your life and individual needs. We sincerely thank John Penrose and all of our customers for shopping at the co-op. We want you to feel welcome every time you shop in an authentic, relationship-building way. There’s no flashy jibberish here. It’s about real people. It’s about serving you and the community.