Mountain Valley Foods is a business that is enriched with foundations in family, community, and natural foods. This locally-owned organic grocery store was founded in the city of Kalispell, Montana, and has been providing natural and organic foods sourced from their local community since 1989. Mountain Valley Foods prides itself on offering “exceptional products at competitive prices” which includes an array of organic products like specialty beer and wines, meats, fish, gluten-free foods, and more! We sat down to chat with cofounders Patricia and Lorein about sourcing and working with local farmers, building a business with family, and how they remain committed to their family’s values.
Mountain Valley Foods has been in business for over 30 years, how did the business start, and what inspired the name?
Mountain Valley Foods was started by our parents in 1989 as a way to provide good food for our family and our community. Kalispell is at the heart of a valley, surrounded by mountains on all sides which inspired our name, Mountain Valley Foods.
As a business that is rooted in the community, how do you collaborate with local farmers to supply your store?
We are able to work very closely with our local farmers, letting them know what we would like to sell and how much we think we will sell, enabling them to better plan their planting for our needs.
How do your family values contribute to the business’s success?
Integrity and commitment are two very important family values and they just happen to be excellent business values as well. Going to work and finding value in the service your business is providing is one of the biggest rewards of business ownership.
Wellness is a big part of your brand, what are three recommendations you have for customers looking to shop for natural and organic foods?
1. Shop with businesses you know and trust.
2. Shop with businesses that have knowledgeable staff that actually consume and use natural and organic foods.
3. Shop with businesses that value you as a customer and are happy to help you. You can only trust what you are buying if you trust the people you are buying it from.
How do you and your sister’s skill sets complement each other?
An open dialogue about our respective skills helps us work together in our business. Together, we have moved our store’s location once and expanded our store three times and are headed into another expansion this month. Making these types of large changes in our business has required patience from both of us.
What are the benefits of having a personal and professional relationship with your cofounder?
Our personal and professional relationship allows us to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses on a much more intimate level making for a more nuanced approach to our business decisions.
What tips would you give to an entrepreneur who is considering building a business with a friend or cofounder?
1. Commitment to the endeavor. There will be challenging times and cofounders need to have the same commitment you have to achieve business goals.
2. Complementary strengths. If one person is good at setting goals and being the business visionary, then the cofounder needs to be great at the mechanics of running a business like accounting, human relations, and marketing.
3. Cash, lots of it. Credit, if you can get it.
4. Civility. There are definitely challenging communication moments in any business endeavor and remaining civil in the heat of the moment keeps issues from escalating and getting out of control.
As cofounders, do you have different website roles and responsibilities or do you manage them collectively?
Website responsibilities are managed collectively. Our mom does the maintenance and we provide content and ideas.
What inspired the “Sister Tips” video series on your website and how do you choose your featured tips?
The “Sister Tips” started as a collaboration with our local tv station, and then we realized they would be a very fun addition to our website. We wrote all of the sister tips and enjoy coming up with new ideas to highlight our products and our fun sister relationship.
Social media has become a valuable part of marketing your business, how do you use social media to connect with your customers?
We utilize our monthly sale flyer from the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association to let our customers know about our monthly sales. Additionally, we utilize social media for a more artistic representation of our business highlights.