Down To Earth Is Soaring

By Mark Fergusson
Wednesday - October 15, 2008
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By Mark Fergusson

CEO for Down to Earth

When I joined Down to Earth in 1991, I had just moved to Hawaii from Australia for a dream job come true. My values fit perfectly with Down to Earth’s commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle. I had a bachelor’s degree in economics from Macquarie University and a CPA from Australia’s CPA program. I started as the chief financial officer and soon became the chief executive officer. Since then, the company has become my life’s calling.

Down to Earth started 30 years ago in a small store in Wailuku, Maui, when a few friends banded together to help the local community improve its health. They did this through organic and natural products and by promoting a healthy, vegetarian lifestyle. Their trail-blazing move was well-received.

Today Down to Earth is the largest locally owned natural food store chain in Hawaii. It is the state’s only all-vegetarian store and one of only a few in the nation. We have five locations statewide: Honolulu, Kailua and Pearlridge on Oahu, and Kahului and Makawao on Maui.

The success of Down to Earth has been based on our unshakable commitment to both our vision and our customers. We have earned the loyalty of practicing and aspiring vegetarians due to our uncompromising dedication to this commitment. We remain a community-based business whose mission is to promote healthy living among our island communities, respect for the environment, sustainable organic farming and a vegetarian lifestyle.

Even with increasing competition, we believe customers will continue to choose Down to Earth as their preferred natural food store. There are many reasons for our confidence.

The first is price. Down to Earth will continue to offer great values on natural foods and sell only healthy products that are good for you and the environment, unlike some competitors.

Down to Earth executives (from left) Cliff Hillier, Cindy Kruse, Mark Fergusson and Frank Santana

We understand the local market. We have served health-conscious islanders for 30 years, with natural and organic products, free cooking classes, nutritional seminars and community outreach. Hawaii’s shoppers know they can rely on us for quality products, great value and excellent customer service from our friendly and knowledgeable staff. No amount of marketing glitz and gourmet foods can take the place of deep local roots and knowledge of local tastes.

And many of Down to Earth’s customers are vegetarians who will not be comfortable shopping in a store that promotes eating meat. They believe eating meat is bad for their health and the environment, and reject the notion that slaughtering animals to eat them is ever humane. And those moving toward a vegetarian lifestyle appreciate the health and environmental benefits, too.

Finally, Down to Earth supports local businesses. Each year we purchase about $2.5 million in products from 400 local vendors including more than 150 farmers and growers. The trust and loyalty we have developed with them means we will continue to have access to the freshest local fruits and vegetables.

Down to Earth will easily thrive in a marketplace that changed considerably with the recent arrival of a major retailer from the Mainland. We look forward to increased interest in organic and natural foods in Hawaii. Expanding the market for healthful foods will benefit the people of Hawaii and we expect our business to grow.


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