The warmest smile, the reddest lipstick, and the best birthday celebrations— these are just a few of the things you could count on about Margaret Isely. She was born in August 1921, and our company was born in 1955 while she was a young mother, going door-to-door with her husband and lending books on nutrition to the neighbors. To us, August is a month of celebration because it’s Margaret’s month. It’s about remembering our origins and especially the woman whose nurturing spirit and passion for bettering her neighborhood still shape the culture of Natural Grocers today.
She wasn’t content with big ideas staying silent—Margaret wanted to get everyone involved in improving the world together. She loved to engage about the things she believed in, whether it was Nutrition Education, climate change or sharing a good laugh. In the 1970s, her love of connection took on tangible form as a Tea Garden outside our original West Colfax store, became one of Natural Grocers’ first community spaces. In 2019, her legacy has spread to stores throughout our company where folks can gather in our community rooms to share big ideas, enjoy healthy treats and learn about nutrition.
Caring about the people in her life wasn’t just something she said; it was in the everyday details of what she did. One of our most popular crew benefits, Vitamin Bucks, comes from one of Margaret’s nurturing traditions. From the beginning, she used to give an allowance for lunch, and back when a loaf of bread was less than 50 cents, that could build a tasty sandwich. Today, every good4u Crew member receives Vitamin Bucks with each paycheck, which they can spend on anything in our stores, and it still builds a tasty sandwich at 2019 prices.
Birthdays were the best with Margaret, and she never let one slip by without notice. She loved to take each Crew member out to lunch on their special day, which inspired the Birthday Bonus Pay that everyone at Natural Grocers now enjoys. This year marks our 64th anniversary as a company, and we’re throwing a party in honor of the woman whose enthusiasm for birthdays has been passed on to the next generations! We hope you join us as we celebrate Margaret, who taught us what to value, how to love, and why you can’t trust someone who doesn’t like chocolate.