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From 93 to 1,200 stores? Why Natural Grocers' plan shouldn't be dismissed

What started as a door-to-door operation has grown to a $521 million chain

What began 60 years ago as a husband and wife team going door-to-door to sell nutritional supplements has turned into a chain of 93 grocery stores in the U.S. that's working to grow much, much larger.

The Denver-based natural and organic grocery store chain Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is going up against Whole Foods and Sprouts with its own set of health-forward principles. For example, you won't find non-organic produce or goods with artificial flavours or colours in Natural Grocers stores. And it sticks to its values even if that means taking a sales hit.

An article in Inc. says when Natural Grocers decided to stop selling "confinement dairy products" (including milk from cows that aren't permitted to graze), it pulled one of its best-selling yogurts, Noosa, off its shelves.

Beyond putting its standards before sales, Natural Grocers has also kept itself rooted in family. Children of the founders took over the company in 1998 and even give a nod to co-founder Margaret Isely by closing at unusual times–9:04 p.m. on weekdays and 7:06 p.m. on Sundays--to keep in line with Isely's aversion to rushing out customers at closing time.

The company went public in 2012 and is now looking to explode in size by operating 1,200 U.S. stores.

Read the full story here.

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