Kindred Spirits

Photo by Baxter Turain

Photo by Baxter Turain

Lilli Sher

Riley Kinnard, who will soon be the general manager of her family’s Kindred Market located at 284 E. State Street, says she grew up in Athens during the “locavore movement,” which was when people began to consciously consume local foods. Her experience working for an organic food co-op in southern California inspired her to open a full-service natural foods grocery store in her hometown with her family. Kinnard, an Ohio University alumna, says the market is expected to open later this year.

What is Kindred Market’s mission?

The mission is to promote healthy living, [to promote] a healthy lifestyle in individuals and in the community, to promote local business and local producers. You know, cottage industry folks, produce producers, meat producers. And [to] try to grow the local economy too; to have a positive impact.

What role does your family play in Kindred Market?

My mother and my sister are business people, they’re entrepreneurs. My mother’s opened up a couple of different companies over the years. She owns Career Connections now, it’s a staffing agency, and my sister runs Career Connections as the general manager. … They're just very talented businesswomen, and they really wanted to get behind the project. My brother is super into nutrition education [and] nutrition science, and that was something that was just born out of his own interests and things…so he was really into the idea too. As a group, we just tossed it around a lot, and then we were always saying that if we could find the perfect location for the store, then we would all try to jump on it and do it. And this was the location that we all talked about. Just the proximity to the east side, and being on East State Street, the huge parking lot, all of those things just made it seem sort of perfect.

Why did you choose to open in Athens?

We all live here. My family has kind of a unique family situation in that we all grew up here and we all chose to stay and grow roots here. We also all live on the same 80 acres. It’s a little much, I know, and nobody really had this as their plan, but it works out great. So we all have families here, we care about the community a great deal, and because we’re all going to be here, there was this itch to do something together that could leave a lasting impact on the community for good, so that’s why…we chose to open in Athens.
What kind of items will you sell as a specialized, health foods market?

Everything will be natural. We’re super focused on organic. All the produce will be organic, and I think the only time it won’t be organic is if it’s a local provider or producer who’s maybe not organically certified, but still uses sustainable practices. So, a mostly organic, natural foods store that’s focused on local and regional products as much as possible. … We’ll have a really extensive bulk foods section, about 25 feet of bulk foods fixtures. We’ll have a cafe on the other side of the vestibule where we’ll do espresso drinks and have limited pastries. There’s a lot of bakeries on this street, [so] we don’t necessarily need to try and fill that void. But we will have a grab-and-go style kind of eatery where we won’t be making anything made-to-order, but we will be preparing fresh salads, soups [and] sandwiches on a daily basis…and we’ll have frozen foods and dairy. We’ll be a full-service grocery store. Another cool thing we’ll have is a reverse osmosis and alkaline water machine. So, you come and fill up your jugs of water with really fresh, clean water and alkalized water is a big thing. … It’s like changing the pH of your body [and] helps fight all sorts of diseases and health problems. And then we’ll have a cool health and beauty section, wellness [and] apothecary kind of area … The store is going to be really focused on promoting a zero-waste lifestyle, or at least plastic-free and less packaging, as much as we can. I mean, there’s a lot of products that we will be purchasing that are packaged, of course, but that’s why we’ve really wanted to go big on the bulk department in that we hope people will be reusing containers and bringing their own things for like health and beauty aids and cleaning supplies and things.
When is the market expected to open?

April [or] May is a good time to open in my mind, anyway, even though it seems way late as to what our original plan was, because people are getting motivated and excited to be outside again. I really hope we’ll have a lot of foot traffic in the neighborhood, and people will come and check it out on bikes and also local growers and producers will have much more produce for us to sell and hopefully stock here. … With the amount of excitement and encouragement we’ve gotten from the community, it would be really a bummer to disappoint people, so we want to do it right.