Kindred Market Cultivates Community as Athens’ New Full-Service Organic Grocer< < Back to
Riley Kinnard has always been interested in promoting a lifestyle that is based around natural and organic foods. When she was working for an organic food co-op in San Diego, California, she was amazed by the close-knit community that shared this same outlook on life and how closely the energy in the city mirrored that of her hometown in Athens, Ohio. As a third generation Athens townie, Kinnard wanted to cultivate the town’s growing interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When she moved back to her hometown, Kinnard collaborated with her family in the hopes of bringing the health-focused community she experienced in California to Ohio. Her dream? Open a market similar to the co-op she previously worked for.
“A healthy lifestyle is a topic that never gets old because the essence of it is vibrant and good … I see the convergence of that growing vibrance in a community center as a very powerful and positive thing,” she said. “It was Athens that taught me those things were important.”
Between her mother’s expertise in business and her father’s experience as a contractor, the logistics of the market’s finances and the storefront’s renovations were taken care of. Kinnard’s siblings were heavily involved too, with her brother handling the technology and her sister leading the hiring process.
At the beginning of 2019, during Memorial Day weekend, Kinnard joined her family and the Athens community in celebrating the grand opening of Kindred Market, Athens’ first organic grocer. With a strict standard for the ingredients found in its products, Kindred Market sources its inventory mainly from local farmers and food vendors.
Jonathan Milo Leal, founder and owner of Milo’s Whole World Gourmet, LLC., one of the market’s vendors, said being aware of where products come from should be important to every consumer. Stores like Kindred Market, that empathize local and regional vendors, make this process much more convenient for its customers.
“You know where your food is coming from, you often know the people growing it for you,” he said. “It gives you much more of a connection [with the community] and you know you’re creating much more of an impact in the local area.”
Self-described as “an enlightened grocer” Kindred Market serves the Athens community in a variety of ways. By creating a space that celebrates wellness and alternative medicine, Kinnard said, the market creates more inspiration for people wanting to learn about healthy lifestyles. The market’s extensive inventory of products from local farmers, meat producers and cottage-industry vendors also supports the local economy.
“I feel that consumers who are interested in eating organic are also interested in supporting local growers and producers of their food,” she said. “Providing an outlet that brings those interests, causes [and] options together seemed like an advantageous idea.”
In addition to offering an opportunity for local growers and food providers to sell their product, Kindred Market also curates a diverse collection of art and other handmade goods from artists and makers in the area. Kelly Kalf Lawrence, owner of Green Mantle Studio and a cook at Kindred Market, said she has already seen an increase in the number of ceramic pieces she has sold since partnering with the market.
“[The Kinnards are] a wonderful family to work for,” she said. “Their mission is terrific, they have a great sense of what this community needs and that’s pretty exciting.”
Athens resident Nancy Shahan said her needs as a community member have been met through Kindred Market.
“I feel that [the market] really fits in with the vibe that makes Athens, Athens; holistic, natural, fresh, small business,” she said.
Though Kindred Market has been open for less than a year, its impact has already been seen in the community. Kinnard said she hopes this impact continues to grow and that community members appreciate the importance of supporting local businesses.
“Shopping locally keeps communities unique,” she said. “Athens has a special identity and vibe that [my family loves] very much. The more money spent at independently-owned, small businesses, the greater opportunity for that identity to stay alive.”