Colorado Floods Spur Industry to Charity

Boulder, CO—The September flooding that affected heavily populated northern areas of Colorado, causing at least eight deaths, displacing thousands and damaging untold amounts of property, was a cause rallied around by the natural products community. The state as a whole, particularly the area including Boulder and Denver, is a financial and cultural center for the natural and organic industry.

WholeFoods Retailer of the Year for 2013, Sprouts Farmers Market, was both impacted itself and involved in the recovery. Jim Nielsen, chief operating officer of Sprouts, said the couple of weeks during and after the flooding were very difficult for its Colorado market, especially its Boulder location. “During that time, obviously our number one focus for us was our team members, and how they were. But once we found out everybody was okay, we started to put the store back together,” Nielsen said.

Sprouts assured team members they would be paid for any time scheduled, and also sought to give back by giving Boulder customers a 10% discount and donating 10% of all sales to the community for one weekend in October. The chain also set up a Grab ‘n Give program to allow customers to buy reduced-price groceries that would then be donated to those in need.

Whole Foods Market also got in on the acts of kindness, donating 5% of one-day sales from stores in four states including Colorado, for a total of nearly $90,000, to the American Red Cross flood relief fund.

Another charitable retailer, Lucky’s Market, has stores in Boulder and Longmont, Colorado. Lucky’s reportedly hosted a benefit night on September 20 for flood victims in the Longmont area, with proceeds donated to the Red Cross.

Manufacturers also lent a hand. Pet brand I and Love and You donated over 1,000 of its pet food meals to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Meanwhile, NuCentury Herbs supplied Donate Boulder with packets of its herbal respiratory supplement, Resprin, as mold, asbestos and debris presented respiratory hazards to those involved in the cleanup.

Boulder Brands, formerly Smart Balance, which owns brands like Earth Balance and Glutino, has 60 Colorado-based employees. The company made a commitment to $100,000 in disaster relief aid, and was also matching employee donations up to $100,000. It had an employee service volunteer day planned, with a goal of 500 volunteer hours by employees toward flood-relief efforts by the end of 2013.

Full Expo East 2013 Coverage

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2013 (online 10/18/13)