Earth’s General Store: Balancing People, Planet, and Profit in Organic-Food Retailing
(7 pages of text)
The owner and operator of two stores that sold organic groceries and fair-trade goods in Edmonton, Alberta was proud of what he had built; however he was worried about the financial sustainability of his downtown location. Since its opening in 2014, the downtown store had constantly struggled to remain profitable in the face of extremely high overhead costs. The original Whyte Avenue location of Earth’s General Store, highly popular with its loyal patrons, had been subsidizing the downtown store just to keep its doors open. This practice was certainly not a long-term solution, and in early 2016, the owner needed to create a new business strategy that would balance his company’s financial needs with its social and environmental missions.
Case content is appropriate for graduate-level students in sustainability, business strategy, and marketing courses. The case has the following learning objectives:
- Evaluate the sustainability journey of the organic-food retail industry from evolutionary, relational, and durational perspectives.
- Define the critical success factors for organic-food retailers.
- Analyze the ability of organic-food retailers, and of sustainable entrepreneurs in general, to balance financial performance with environmental and social advocacy.
- Discuss the role of municipal governments and local community groups in the success of independent sustainable businesses.
- Recommend an action plan for a sustainable business, based on theoretical and factual information.
Canada, Small, 2016
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