Lessons from the Dill Pickle Food Co-op: Greentailing

As I responded to reader/commenter Amy (see Thank you, and…), I have a complaint with the Dill Pickle Food Co-op:  that it didn’t locate on Milwaukee Avenue.

Wouldn’t it have looked lovely?

What the Dill Pickle Food Co-op Might Have
Looked Like on Milwaukee Ave.

But it did do many other things right, and there are lessons to be learned by current and future Milwaukee Avenue merchants.

With a particular focus on “Gen Y” (also known as “Echo Boomers”), whose numbers rival their baby boomer parents, the context I’m using to describe the lessons comes from retail consultant Anne Brouwer of McMillanDoolittle, whom I heard speak at an ICSC conference earlier this year.

One of the characteristics attributed to Gen Y is that of social responsibility, that we all have a responsibility to society as a whole.  And behind that term is the encompassing notion of sustainability:  sustainable lifestyle; sustainable food production and distribution; sustainable transportation; etc.

And one of the major present-day retail innovation drivers is the “green” format.  You can’t go far today without seeing green:  green roofs; green building,  Green Ideas.  And green is associated with wellness (so I will henceforth use green to include wellness). 

Ms. Brouwer, the retail consultant, had us understand greentailing through the acronym T.A.S.C:  think, act, sell, convey green.

Think green

Starting with its mission:  “The Dill Pickle Food Co-op offers healthy food choices…;” and continuing with its core principles:  “Concern for Community:  Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities…;” the Dill Pickle thinks green.

Act green

Dill Pickle (and similarly other new businesses like Logan Square Kitchen and Revolution Brewing) used salvaged materials (photo right) and fixtures where possible to give a second life to the materials, the reuse of the three R components:  reduce, reuse, recycle.

At least a month before opening its doors, Dill Pickle had a bike rack installed (photo below), accommodating alternative, sustainable transportation.  And I have to give them credit for shoveling snow all
winter long all the way to the curb (also shown in photo), accommodating pedestrians from every angle:  coming from the sidewalk, coming from the library mid-block across the street, or coming from a street-parked car.

Sell green

Like our Logan Square Farmers Market, it’s most obvious that Dill Pickle sells a variety of green products.  From top to bottom, organically grown produce to green diapers (photo right), what is the Dill Pickle Food Co-op?  It’s a “…neighborhood grocery store that aims to provide sustainable, local, and organic goods….”

Convey green

The Dill Pickle Food Co-op embodies green, starting with its name and logo. C’mon, like trying not to think of a pink elephant, can you think of any color but green when someone says “dill pickle?” 

But it’s more than that:  It’s about supporting local businesses and farmers, a sense of community, and lowering its ecological footprint, and other components of organizational social responsibility.  That brings us back to that characteristic that attracts Gen Y shoppers.

See below for ways you can think, act and convey green this weekend.

Spring diversions in Logan Square:

Celebrate Earth Day at Unity Park:  Saturday, April 17, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at 2636 N. Kimball Ave.; bring gloves and gardening tools and prepare to get dirty; children welcome.


Food for Thought:  Poetry about Food:  Saturday,
April 17, 2:00 p.m. at the Logan Square Library,
3030 W. Fullerton Ave.; poetry writing workshop and open-mic poetry reading.


2 Responses to Lessons from the Dill Pickle Food Co-op: Greentailing

  1. Many warm thanks for mentioning the Food for Thought: Poetry about Food workshop at Logan Square Library — free — on Saturday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m.

  2. payton says:

    As I remember it, the DPFC did initially want to be on Milwaukee but found the available spaces too expensive, too large, and too inflexible. Where we ended up is a space that’s only about 50-70% as large as a standard storefront; while we could use the space, we really wanted to keep start-up costs and risks down back then.

    payton: I understand that there are always many factors that go into location decisions, not the least of which is the rent. I just would have loved to see it on Milwaukee Ave! ~ Lynn

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