June 1 marked a major transition in the history of The Organic Grocer, Surrey, B.C. Almost 27 years after founding the store, owners Deb Foote and Garth Owen sold the business.
The Organic Grocer’s new owners are Kristina and Robi Cavallari. Kristina brings a natural health background to her new venture. She is a graduate of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, earning her registered holistic nutritionist designation. She has worked at Finlandia Natural Pharmacy, Quidditas Health, and most recently at Divine Root Nutrition. Robi’s background and expertise is in the financial planning and banking sector. They have two young children.
Deb and Garth both have long histories as active participants in the Canadian organic movement. Deb worked with Wild West Organics from 1986 to 2006, and she received the CHFA Organic Achievement Award in 2005. She has served on the boards of the Certified Organic Association of B.C., the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society and the CCEC Credit Union (which helped fund the original store). She has also been involved with Agriculture Canada’s Organic Value Chain roundtable and the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada in Truro, N.S.
Garth was primarily on the retail side at Lifestreams store and Woodlands Restaurant in Vancouver. He also worked with the East End Food Co-op and Famous Foods, a century-old pioneer in bulk food, and spent a decade at Edible Island Whole Food Market in Courtney, B.C. He served two terms on the CHFA board of directors and headed the organic caucus.
Naturally, they depart the industry with with mixed emotions. “I guess you could liken the process of selling a business to sending your first born off to college,” explained Deb. “We are relieved and – at the same time – perhaps a little hesitant. It’s a big change. We have been a part of this industry for more years than we can remember and ridden many a wave along the way. Yet, we have enjoyed every minute of it, challenges and all.”
The Cavallaris are looking forward to carrying the legacy of the Organic Grocer. Said Kristina, “The Organic Grocer speaks to us as a family and is the perfect fit for our future.”
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