Real American Success Story: Ellwood Thompson's

With a name derived from where it’s situated—at the intersection of Ellwood and Thompson streets in Richmond, Virginia—Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market is a one-of-a-kind success story. It’s also a favorite with the locals, and not just because it offers the best selection of organic produce and natural foods around.

It’s no wonder Rick Hood, co-founder and owner of Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, Virginia, has been such a strong supporter of the Independent We Stand movement. He and his market exemplify the unique character and community benefits that independent businesses can bring to an area.

With the addition of a bakery and café, the 15,000-sqare-foot Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market is the largest organic market in Virginia. It’s also a testament to how tightly an independent business can become woven into the fabric of a community.

With an emphasis on getting produce from within 100 miles of his store, Hood has long been a champion of the farm-to-table approach. “You get to know those farmers and venders who provide the food, so you can go to where they make it or grow it, and then you know what their process is, how they treat their employees, and they’re your friends often,” said Hood. “And that’s good in a community sense, too — wouldn’t you like to do business with your friends rather than some unnamed vendor?”

Hood makes sure Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market is involved in the community in many other ways, too. One example is “5% Days at Ellwood’s,” when the store helps raise awareness for a local nonprofit organization and donates 5% of that day’s sales. The business has also fostered links and support of the local arts community, including commissioning Richmond artists to paint on-site murals.

Since founding Ellwood Thompson’s over 20 years ago, Rick Hood has come to appreciate that there’s more to making a business a successful and healthy part of the community than crunching the numbers.

“Focus only on the bottom line and you don’t have a consciousness about the environment you’re in and even the way you treat people,” Hood said. “You know, in the end, that’s just not very meaningful.”

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