A (W)holistic Partnership
The Internet leads to a surprise connection and fruitful partnership
“Would you be interested in picking up some food?” It was the middle of December, 2021, and The Market was stretched. An unlikely lifeline showed up, in the form of a Twitter direct message.
Daniel Clay is the Facility Team Leader at Whole Foods’ distribution center in Thurston County and he followed me on Twitter because of sports*. It just so happened that he had a lot of product to donate, and had taken notice of the work we were doing at The Market. At the time, the customer base at The Market was swelling, and the holidays were putting a strain on everything and everyone – from the supply chains to the people making everything go on a daily basis.
I’ve spent 12 or so years managing various sports media brands on the internet, and as part of that amassed a minor twitter following. I, and the wonderful network of sports people I’ve worked with, tend to use our platforms to raise money and awareness for good causes (and say silly things about sports). The Market is one of those good causes.
So there Stacey and I were, in Betty White, the Little Box Truck That Could, driving an hour at the crack of dawn to meet with Daniel and his team, and maybe pick up some food to take back to The Market.
Oh … right … the weather.
Our meeting came in the middle of the snowstorms in the northwest, cutting off mountain pass travel, and flooding to the south, effectively putting all of us – including the warehouse – on an island. As Lauren Mason, the Associate Facility Team Leader, brought us into the office, she explained the situation while excusing Daniel for being a little busy (he carried a phone in each hand throughout the morning). They were only juggling the logistics of produce coming to the warehouse stuck on the wrong side of road closures, and an inability to get trucks leaving the distribution center to stores they served throughout the vast region they serve.
Despite the chaos on the outside, we spent two hours touring the facility and sitting in a conference room with Daniel and Lauren, talking about The Market and the mission, and how we could all work together. In a quiet moment as Lauren and Daniel rerouted trucks and did logistics on the fly outside the room, Stacey turned to me and said “...this is going to change some things. I can feel it.”
We left the warehouse that day with pallets of fresh salad, heaps of potatoes, fruits, and frozen meats that tested the limits of Betty (and Stacey’s nerves) on the drive back to The Market. “We need a bigger truck,” she said as we hit every pothole on I-5. We unloaded the truck to smiles and laughter as we explained the potential of our partnership with Daniel and his team. We also plotted to find that bigger truck – a rental and pre-dawn trip at first, and, later, weekly pickups by a local moving company.
From that initial meeting, Whole Foods has been there for us in ways that are hard to even express. We’re able to provide customers with fresh, quality produce and proteins, putting donations from Whole Foods to good use and immediately getting them out on the floor at The Market. The partnership, and timing of it, eased a huge burden as the customer base expanded, allowing us to scale up our capacity at a time we were bursting at the seams.
All of this happened because of a random direct message. In the months since, Daniel and Lauren have been along for the ride as The Market has grown and evolved. We send little updates and thank yous, and each week the staff and volunteers unloading the truck wait with excitement to see what goodies are delivered for our customers. In addition to the donations, we’ve done purchasing, as well, putting our dollars to good use and providing customers with quality food options.
Daniel, Lauren, and the entire staff at the Whole Foods distribution center have been incredible partners for us, and we can’t thank them enough. They’ve truly impacted both our operations and the community we serve.
If you or your company would like to partner with us in similar ways, reach out to email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.