Grapevine Natural Grocery began in 1988 when Chuck Alwine bought the previous incarnation of the store, which had been run in a nearby location. Chuck had managed a similar store in New Hope and then decided to open his own in Newtown in what he saw as an up and coming natural and organic foods market.
Chuck changed the concept of the store by adding fresh produce. Plants came later when he began to buy from local wholesalers. Within four years, the store doubled in size when Chuck moved his enterprise a couple of doors up the street.
Chuck says, “Over the last ten years the things that we have carried and what people are interested in have changed a lot. Originally I sold conventional produce and local farm produce, not necessarily organic. In 2001 I didn’t want to drive to the Philadelphia produce market at four in the morning anymore. I made a conscious decision to go to local and organic produce, even though I sell less produce now.”
Rooted in the community, Chuck is happy to have developed a loyal following. Grapevine is a place where people support the local economy (rather than a big corporation) with goods that are competitively priced. Chuck says, “Whole Foods is great; it has created a lot of press for our industry, but it is not cheap. One specific item may be cheaper, but cart for cart it is not cheaper.” Chuck guesses “if we redefined ourselves in the future, a café or deli would be good additions. They have good appeal and help bring in people.”
“We pride ourselves on special orders; we cater to peoples’ needs and dietary needs like sodium free or gluten free products. We have a lot of products and while we can’t get everything, we will definitely try. We try to provide the consumer with information and resources. A lot of people come in here and they want answers—they are nervous and scared about their health. We have a lot of resources to help them: staff, books, the Internet, calls to various resources. We like to give people personalized attention and that sets us apart. That is our particular ‘niche.’
Now in his twenty third year of providing good food and healthy alternatives to the expanding group of people who are choosing natural as their way of living and eating, Chuck would be happy to have you as a customer.