Way before “wellness,” “natural,” “organic” and “vegan” were trendy buzzwords, Joe and Sarah Hamilton opened a store focused on healthy foods as a way to create a new life for their family. They wanted a greater quality of life, which they found in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and a way to share with the community their passion for natural foods and socially responsible living.
In 1999, their original store was 1,200 square feet. The following year, the Hamiltons moved across the street and added space. At that point, the store occupied 4,000 square feet. In August 2005, 2,000 square feet were added, and another 2,000 in 2007. In 2008, a large adjacent space that would triple the store size became available, and today, Pilgrim’s Market spans 25,000 square feet.
2020 OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENTS
“The Pilgrim’s mission is to serve, empower and delight our health-seeking customers,” says Nicole Henley, human resources director for the grocer. “We believe in going above and beyond to always provide the very best customer service experience. The No. 1 compliment we receive is about the quality of our staff and the family-like experience that is provided.”
Pilgrim’s takes educating customers to a higher level than most grocers.
“We believe knowledge is power. We make constant efforts to empower our customers to pursue wellness from a holistic approach,” Henley says. “Our supplements and health and beauty team members are some of the most knowledgeable around. Our entire team takes pride in being the champions of their departments and having thorough knowledge of all the products found in their aisles. Additionally, our events center hosts a wide array of educational classes covering topics like fermentation, natural medicine, raw food, essential oils, CBD and more.”
Pilgrim’s also focuses on employee retention. The grocer says that it constantly reviews and revises its benefits package to ensure that it’s providing useful and valuable benefits to employees. The store pays for 75% of employee health insurance and 50% of employee dental insurance, offers a 3% match into retirement accounts, and matches up to $40 per month into associates’ health savings accounts. Pilgrim’s also shares store profits with employees through a bonus program paid out each quarter.
“We aim to live out our mission statement at the employee level by truly serving, empowering and delighting our team members every day,” Henley says.