Featured Member: Brian Kvistad, Blossom Grocery

PSFN Buyer, Lopez Island

Please, tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Seattle.  I’ve been in the grocery business for a long time.  As a teenager, I worked as a grocery store bagger and that’s when I started reading labels.  In college I worked at the now closed Rainbow Grocery on Capital Hill.  Later I joined PCC in Greenlake. The WTO conference in Seattle “pushed” me out of Seattle onto Lopez Island.  That’s where I am now.

My wife went to Bastyr and did some work as a personal chef for a while.  We are both very interested in food and health but we both kept thinking we could do more with farming and gardening but that idea never became reality.  In 2004 we had an opportunity to take over the Blossom Grocery located in the heart of the village since 1977. We’ve increased our inventory and space in the last few years and have placed our stamp on products we offer.

Blossom Grocery is known for produce, beer and wine, bulk spices, quality and knowledge, and foods for special occasions.  Compared to well known retailers, our ideals are closer to PCC.  We carry things like raw almond butter and organic, ayurvedic ghee, raw milk and local specialty cheeses.

“We measure the quality of our products by their food miles, certified organic status, fair trade status, producer ethics, affordability, simplicity, freshness, and suitability for islanders’ needs.” http://blossomgrocery.com/

What do you like best about your job?

I like being in a position of influence in my community and seeing results.  I love working with my wife close to the kids.  I go home for lunch.  I talk with my customers.

Why should we care about local food?

There are many food producers in the Northwest that we as a community can support.  Food sovereignty is important.  Customers often ask me about local food and I believe we are heading for days of reckoning because the industrial food system is not sustainable.  Local food is good for many reasons now and will be more important in the future. Buying local is about economic relationships beyond the financial. Local is both geographical and philosophical.

Why did you join PSFN?

Recently I’ve experienced website overload but we understand it’s use if it helps us save time and build lasting relationships with food producers here in Washington.  Checking into the site on a regular basis will take some practice because we fly by the seat of our pants. Owning a small store on the island takes a lot of work! We are interested in PSFN because the staff is helping improve logistics when it comes to people like us who want to bring locally produced foods to the island. We needed a bigger picture of available producers and products out there, and we’re looking for producers who will work together to bundle deliveries to Lopez Island.

The development of the depot or wholesale market on the mainland will be good for us.  We can drive over once a week and pick up orders directly from the producer and go home.  I can’t be out in the truck all day picking up product from multiple locations. (Editor’s note: PSFN and Skagit Valley Coop are collaborating on a wholesale market that will launch this summer- stay tuned).  We can’t pay a third party to do this work for us either.  We want to build relationships and PSFN can act as the broker for the brokerless.  Once I make connections, I’d like to see more ironing out of logistical hurdles.

What is your favorite quote?

It’s a Wendell Barry quote….something like “Live joyfully though you have considered all the facts.”

Blossom Grocery is open everyday, Monday – Saturday 9am to 7pm, and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Located in the heart of Lopez Village 360.468.2204 · info@blossomonlopez.com.

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