Margaret Isely and her husband Philip Isely founded Natural Grocers in 1955 after the couple credited natural, wholesome foods and dietary supplements for helping Margaret defeat a chronic illness. The Isely family steadily grew their business and spread their message about the benefits of health food for more than half a century. Their success led to an IPO in 2013 which generated $91 million for the Colorado-based company.
Today, Natural Grocers is led by the family’s second generation: Heather, Zephyr and Kemper Isely. The company operates through its 149 locations across 19 US states but still tries to convey its original small-town, local feel. By selling entirely organic products and produce, Natural Grocers has helped develop and expand the health-conscious consumer market in North America and compelled many in the traditional grocery sector to respond. Additionally, the company’s forward-thinking employee benefits, such as providing a staff nutritionist, have further challenged existing human resource policies.
Despite e-commerce giant Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods in 2017, family-owned Natural Grocers has continued to thrive, with the opening of new locations and a 10 per cent increase in sales from the previous year.