Outpost Natural Foods Co-op (Mequon)
Since 1970, Outpost Natural Foods has been supplying the metro Milwaukee community the best in local, natural and organic foods, all while upholding the values of being a cooperative business.
Outpost serves its more than 18,500 owners from four convenient store locations at 100 E. Capitol Dr. in Milwaukee, 7000 W. State St. in Wauwatosa, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View and 7590 W. Mequon Rd. in Mequon, and a Market Café location at the Rite-Hite Family YMCA complex in Brown Deer. The co-op employs over 460 people, is a union employer represented by UFCW local #1473, as well as publishes an award-winning food and dining magazine (GRAZE) that reaches over 20,000 readers in the greater Milwaukee area.
Outpost’s business innovations and concern for the community have earned it numerous awards – everything from Cooperative of the Year in 1998 from the National Cooperative Business Association, to Milwaukee Magazine’s ‘Best Of.” Outpost also earned the distinction of being recognized as a Top Ten Small Business in Southeastern WI by the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Times magazine. Additionally, Pam Mehnert, General Manager of Outpost accepted a Women of Influence 2000 Award from the Business Journal and the 2011 Community Shares A. David Schwartz Business Humanitarian Award. In 2009 the Wellness Councils of America awarded Outpost a Gold Well Workplace Award. And in 2012 and 2013, Outpost’s GRAZE magazine won the Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism “Best Overall Magazine Design” by the Milwaukee Press Club.
Like all co-ops, Outpost Natural Foods connects to the community by developing a number of give back programs. Through Community Partners, every year four locally based non-profit organizations are given the opportunity to partner with Outpost in order to build greater community awareness of the group and also raise much needed funds. Outpost also partners with Hunger Task Force, a local emergency food bank, on two seasonal food drives. In 2012, the holiday Buy A Bag food drive program brought in a record amount of donations that allowed Outpost to purchase over $104,000 in natural and organic foods. Outpost also participates in Community Shares, an employee give back program through payroll deduction the benefits local non-profits of the employee’s choice.
In 2012, Outpost engaged all staff to envision what the future might look for the co-op and the community in 10 years. The results have become our High Five goals:
- Lively Neighborhood Markets - Like any family, our larger and more established locations will be built on friendly knowledgeable service and help to support the smaller stores that are a better fit for selected neighborhoods. More co-op stores providing greater access to local food.
- Dynamic Local Food Systems - We’re going to put local food on the map by helping to develop a sustainable local food system that effectively serves our area growers. By 2022, 75% of all Outpost sales will come from local or regional sources.
- Sustainable Solutions – We intend to reduce our carbon footprint by 50%, even as we grow, leading our community into a more sustainable future.
- Strong Community Partners - We believe that partnering with like-minded organizations lifts everyone up. We will continue our leadership role to ‘choose local first’ and by doing so strengthen our local economy by generating 49% of all the co-op’s revenue as local.
- Amazing Places to Work – We will be recognized as one of the area’s top employers, based on our breadth of job opportunities, our living wage model, our interest-based values with union and at-will employees, our vibrant wellness program and green initiatives and our culture of trust and transparency.
We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings, but some things remain the same, like our vital cooperative business structure, our commitment to being a locally owned grocer offering delicious food and our commitment to sustaining this Earth we all call home.