MARCH 10, 2020
I admit I did a jump of joy when they agreed to be our March partner. We get to spread the sunshine to our members and also to learn a little more about Sunny Side Natural Market. I knew it was a cool place to shop. I knew it was a space that supported local and was stocked with organic options. I learned so much more from co-owner Patty Nowlin and I am even more passionate about their shop now. Her husband and co-owner Pat bring a whole lot of wellness, connection and community to their store.
Patty thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. Can you please share with us the inception and the creation of Sunny Side Market.
Sunnyside Market actually started out as the Eco Shop in 1995. The previous owner was ahead of the times and the Eco Shop offered refill’s, recycled products etc. In 1997 they added organic food to the mix. We started shopping at Sunnyside Market in 1998 when we moved back to Calgary after living in Berkeley, California. Living in Berkeley immersed us in a dynamic local & organic food culture. When we discovered Sunnyside Market we felt like we were back in Berkeley and it became our go to grocery store. We knew all the staff and the owners and when we heard the owners were selling, we were worried that perhaps the new owners would change things up. One day while shopping there Scott Clements, one of the owners suggested that Pat and I buy the Market. Of course I laughed, what the heck did we know about running a grocery store! I “jokingly” mentioned the purchase to Pat and he also laughed. However a few days later he called me from his downtown cubicle and said hey maybe we should explore purchasing Sunnyside. We both wanted a change from our corporate jobs, we both had strong familial links to farming and ranching in Alberta and wanted to reconnect with this history and we both felt strongly about good food and supporting small local farms. One thing led to another and here we are 15 years later, and so grateful that we took this leap of faith and purchased Sunnyside Market.
Wow, were they ever ahead of their time and are we ever lucky that you and your husband decided to purchase the store. It has grown in many ways and one of them is the now the inclusion of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. How did that come to be?
We met Aviv Fried and Michal Lavi, the owners of Sidewalk Citizen bakery at a Slow Food Kitchen party about 10 years ago and we immediately became good friends. We’d meet up with them, eat fabulous food and talk about collaborating together. When the opportunity to expand presented itself we immediately knew we’d love to have them be a part of the expansion. It’s been a fabulous working relationship, as we both add so much value to each others businesses.
Agreed. I love having you both in the same space! https://www.sunnysidemarket.ca/meet-your-farmers/ allows us to meet the farmers that are providing such great products. Thanks for having this on your website. I know local is incredibly important to you and that dealing with small farms is also part of this. Can you elaborate a little on this for us?
We are one of the few stores in Calgary who deal directly with a number of small farms in Calgary and BC. For instance in the peak of BC fruit season we deal directly with 4 small family farms in the Similkameen Valley in BC. This is an area in BC where most of the organic fruit for Western Canada is grown. We talk with these farmers each week to see what they will be picking, we organize trucks to collect the product directly from them. Dealing directly with these small farms takes more work than if we were to order product from a large organic wholesaler. However, dealing directly with these small farms ensures these farmers receive a fair price for their product and allows us to provide the freshest, most delicious and nutritious products for our customers. The added benefit is these farmers are now good friends and we look forward to visiting with them each year when we do our annual farm tours.
Community is part of what I love about your store. I always feel a deep sense of community and connection when I shop there. Every single time I have been greeted by a kind smile. How do you foster this?
Wonderful to hear that you feel this deep sense of community at Sunnyside Market. As a business owner it’s crucial that we offer a work environment where all employees feel connected and part of a community. One of our business commitments is to provide our employees with a supportive, fun work environment, a living wage, health benefits and profit sharing. Also, all employees have the opportunity to attend a Alberta farm tour every spring/summer and also have the opportunity to work on one of the farms. Another Sunnyside Market business commitment is to ensure people who come into the market leave with a smile on their face and happier than when they came in. This can only happen if the people who “serve” them are also happy, and feel connected. Creating Community Through Good Food, that’s Sunnyside Market is all about.
And you do just that. Every time! Spring is definitely in the air and I am ready for some garden food. I was excited to see some already available in your store.
Yes, even though it’s winter we have lots of local green house grown products in the store: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, sprouts just to name a few. We’re also really excited that the zero waste initiative is growing. We’ve been doing refills of laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner etc. for over 23 years, so make sure you check out our refill station when you visit the market.
For Santosha members: Visit Sunny Side Natural Market &/or Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, show them your MBO receipt and receive 10% off.
Free Yoga: Bring in your receipt from Side Natural Market &/or Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and receive one free class at Yoga Santosha in Mission or Kensington from March 1-31*
*One free class per member per month.