Kingston Natural Foods Market and Buying Club in Ulster County
Kingston Natural Foods Market — and its homegrown buying club in Kingston, Ulster County — offer healthy, organic foods at affordable rates
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In 2007, Jennifer McKinley, a certified holistic nutrition counselor, organized a buying club for friends and clients who wanted healthy foods at low prices. Through the club, Kingston Natural Foods, members purchased organic products in bulk from United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), and picked up their goodies in Jennifer’s driveway on delivery day. Before long, the original group of about 15 households had grown to 250 members, making Kingston Natural Foods the second-largest club nationwide dealing with UNFI — and earning members even more mouthwatering discounts.
Last spring, McKinley opened Kingston Natural Foods Market in a long, skinny storefront in the Rondout district, offering organic groceries to the public, and also allowing club members the convenience of picking up their orders from the store on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, instead of having to convene at a prearranged time.
Those who join the buying club find that UNFI offers a staggering selection of foods, including staples like rices, nuts, seeds, beans, oats, flours — “just on and on,” McKinley says. “The bigger the bag, the better the price.” And if you don’t want an enormous bag of whatever, you can split items when you order online. “Walnuts are pretty expensive, and I wouldn’t want to buy a 25-pound bag by myself,” explains McKinley. “So I’d put that I wanted two pounds of a 25-pound bag, and other people looking to split things can see my invitation.” McKinley keeps an eye on what members want to split and buys small, still-unsold portions of a bulk item to close the deal. “That’s another luxury of this buying club that you don’t have elsewhere,” she notes. That surplus pound or two that she buys winds up in the shop for walk-in customers.
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