Meridian Industrial

NATURAL IN NORTHAMPTON: CORNUCOPIA

7/2/2019 | Stephanie Trombley

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A cornucopia is a symbol of abundance; a vessel filled with a bounty of fruit and vegetables. Northampton’s own Cornucopia, an independent natural foods market nestled in Thornes Marketplace is no exception.

For locals seeking sustainability and natural options both for meals and the home, visit the small shop located at 150 Main Street. Shoppers will find shelves of natural options including fresh organic produce, coffee, detergent and snacks.

While the store may be under new ownership, Cornucopia is a longtime staple in Downtown Northampton. It was opened in 1980 by couple Bud and Sydney Stockwell. Once the couple realized they were ready to sell the business they turned to husband and wife duo Nate Clifford and Jade Jump, who had been dreaming of owning the business.

Jump is a native of Milford, but moved to the Cambridge/Boston area following her graduation. Clifford hails from Hallowell, Maine. It was during Jump’s pregnancy with their daughter that the couple decided to make the move to Hampshire County. Now, Clifford is the store manager of Cornucopia while Jump manages marketing for the store.

“We had been working on business plans for years and then once I got pregnant in 2015, we decided we wanted to move out this way. We always wanted to move into a sort-of more rural neighborhood,” Jump said.

After unpacking and settling down in the area, Clifford set out to find a job. “When we got here, I needed a job and Jade was very, very pregnant. She wasn’t going to be working, at least not in a stand up and run around sense. She was doing a lot of freelance graphic design at the time,” Clifford explained.

Clifford continued, “I needed a job so the owner of Cambridge Naturals, the place where I really fell in love with the whole industry at, called Bud and said ‘Do you have a job for this guy?’ At the time, [Bud] had his grocery buyer transitioning out so I came into this store in a way that is really rare. I came in as a buyer and I came in running.”

Clifford explained that he was passionate about his role at Cornucopia from the day he started. “I probably frustrated some people with ‘Why aren’t we more urgently making the changes that are necessary?’ but I developed a reputation with [Bud] of being somebody that is not overly sensitive, not that there’s anything wrong with being sensitive, and someone who can take direction and just get stuff done and be on board. We developed a relationship of respect that way. It was only three or four months before he offered us the business,” Clifford said.

Jump and Clifford’s passion for all natural and sustainable was a long time in the making. For Clifford, he has spent over a decade in the industry he says he “fell in love with.” Clifford brings experience from places like Wild Oats Market and Whole Foods to Cornucopia. It was after working alongside Jump at Cambridge Naturals that the pair began brainstorming a business plan.

“We worked there for a couple of years together. We knew early on in our relationship that we wanted a business together. It just made sense for us,” Jump said.

Jump explained that the Stockwells soon offered the couple the opportunity to purchase Cornucopia.

“Soon after we moved out here, Bud and Sydney sat down with us for dinner and we talked about our hopes and dreams and how we’d one day love to own a store like this. They said, ‘Well, would you like a store like this?’” Jump shared.

About three and a half years later in March 2019, Clifford and Jump became the new owners of Cornucopia. Since then, the couple has been working to iron out details and implement changes that they are hoping to see.

“It’s definitely a lot more work than I think we could have ever predicted. We knew it was going to be a lot of work. It’s a lot to try to change the culture a little bit and get a good, strong foundation in place as we see it should be,” Clifford explained.

Jump added, “It’s laying down the foundation, adjusting the handbook, doing staff reviews and staff meetings, just all of those basic things and just trying to get a system in place so we can focus on the bigger, more exciting projects of the store.”

Clifford said that they are sticking to the roots of Cornucopia while creating a more philosophy-based store. “We are just trying to move into an even more philosophy-based space, meaning cruelty-free and organic and clean body care and really well-sourced and effective, ethical supplements. And then as much in the organic and local realm for groceries, perishables and produce as well. One of Jade and I’s missions is to make this store more sustainable,” Clifford explained.

Jump said that the pair is hoping to see physical changes to the location as well. “We definitely want to make a lot of environment and aesthetic changes inside the store eventually. I would say in the next few years, you’ll see it looking a lot differently than it does right now,” Jump shared.

Cornucopia plans to change the structure of the store’s entrance and will hang a new sign upon completion.

But for now, Clifford said he is thankful for what the store already has. “We have a great team and a lot of great help, “Clifford shared.

Jump and Clifford said that they have enjoyed being a part of the Northampton community. “I don’t think we would take up the offer if we were offered a large chain store with a corporate structure in place. We like to be in a community that we really love and respect and live in, like to shop in and eat in. Our daughter goes to daycare in this community, so we just feel a lot of connection and a lot of good will from the people here, so we feel by being here and doing what we do, it is a monetization of good will. We will be reasonable with our prices, we will be good to you, and we will try to have empathy and compassion for everyone. We intend to double down on that and get more and more involved,” Clifford shared.

Jump added, “The community aspect is huge for us. We’ve gotten so much positive feedback like ‘Thank you for keeping this store going’ or ‘Thank you for not letting it shut down’ and so for us, it’s just important to not only keep the store going, but keep it sustainable so it can last another 40 plus years and remain here.”

When it comes to the success of Cornucopia, Clifford attributes it largely to working alongside Jump. “I think there was something really intriguing of that one-two punch of Jade and I. I always know in the back of my mind that I have this secret weapon in Jade because we can do this extremely high-end graphic design and put this out here,” Clifford said.

Clifford continued, “All of it is Jade. I’ve been told I’m a very charismatic person and I’m the guy who’s front and center. But I have this secret weapon and I wouldn’t even have considered this without her and that skill from Jade. I feel genuinely lucky and I feel like it’s going to be a huge part of what makes us really competitive.”

Cornucopia is planning a grand opening celebration during the month of July. For updates on the date and time of the event, please follow Cornucopia on Facebook at   facebook.com/CornucopiaNoho

Cornucopia is open Monday through Wednesday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit cornucopianoho.com

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