It Worked for Me: Stretching the Limits of the Café

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Pewaukee, WI—When Jody Nolan, co-owner of Good Harvest Market, was finalizing plans for her brand-new store, she was certain about one thing: she wanted space to serve as a community gathering space. 

natural products store
The natural products store, which opened in January 2005 to offer locals a healthier place to shop, was “designed with ease of shopping in mind” and was built with energy efficiency and eco-friendliness in mind. A decade later, though, the owners (Nolan and her husband, Joe) decided to move operations to a larger location of 23,000 ft2 where they could have large produce, wellness and bulk departments, as well as more space and seating for a ramped-up Harvest Café.
 
But, the café is far more than just a place to eat. The enclosed downstairs space was intended not only to offer great food, but also to hold workshops and other events. In November, Nolan used this lower café area to host a fundraiser for Friendship Bridge. In 2014, Nolan made a trip to Guatemala with Colorado-based Friendship Bridge, a non-profit that helps impoverished women build a better future for themselves through microfinance and education. This trip inspired Nolan to sell arts and crafts made in Guatemala and swittens in her store to raise money for Friendship Bridge. Swittens are wool mittens made from old sweaters by members of the Oconomowoc Circle of Friendship Bridge.
 
“It dawned on me. We’ve got this amazing café space both upstairs and downstairs. Why not sell some of these items at the store?” Nolan says.
natural products store
The sale was held alongside vendor sampling and a Happy Hour, and Nolan says, “It was a fabulous day.” Her store raised nearly $4,000 for Friendship Bridge, and for Good Harvest, “It was our best Saturday ever,” Nolan says. “We’ll absolutely do it again in the future. It supports a great cause, really drives business and it’s fun for everyone.”
 
Good Harvest Market also has a large seating/gathering area upstairs, where shoppers can eat, chat with friends and meet with groups. Nolan explains that her husband and store co-owner, Joe, has always been involved in music and musical theatre. Through his connections, the store offers live music and trivia contests on alternating Friday nights. 
 
Nolan says she wants her store to be people’s “third place.” She explains, “Your home is your first place. Your work is your second place. But, there is another place you really like to go and you connect with. Good Harvest has become a lot of people’s third place.” 
 
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2016, online 12/10/2015