The History of Sunnyside Natural Market

Posted Thursday, Sep 8, 2016

In August of 1997, previous owners Linda Grandinetti and Scott Clements opened Sunnnyside Natural Market. Scott had operated The Eco Shop in the same location from 1991 until 1997. The Eco Shop specialized in environmental products such as recycled paper, refillable cleaning products, and health care items. The expansion into local and organic food in 1997 was a natural progression with the belief that food production and distribution can have significant environmental and social impacts on communities both locally and globally. In 2005 Pat and myself purchased the store from Scott and Linda. 

One of our staff recently asked us, “What motivated you to buy Sunnyside Natural Market?” The path that led to our purchase of the store is really the culmination of both our family histories and personal life experience. Nine years ago, we were working corporate jobs, but were actively seeking a change in lifestyle. We had developed a keen passion for organic and local food and wanted to participate and contribute to Calgary’s thriving local food community. As well, both of us have strong familial links to farming and ranching in Alberta. We wanted to re- connect with this history. Ultimately, the biggest reason was that we had both experienced first-hand the Hippocratic Oath: let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

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Store owners Pat Guyn & Patty Nowlin

The story begins back in 1996. Our first born son had some health issues that appeared when he was just under one year. It was suggested by a pediatrician that he follow a prophylactic antibiotic regime during the flu season, from November to April. This approach seemed very aggressive considering his ailments weren’t life threatening. After doing some research and meeting a variety of health care providers we chose a different method: a multi-faceted approach that included some radical changes to our diet. At this time, an opportunity relocated our family from Calgary to Berkeley, California. It would prove to be an important and influential year and a half of being immersed in a dynamic local & organic food culture – with the added pleasure of eating nutrient-dense, delicious food daily!

When we moved back to Calgary, our son – who had been on a diet that would now be classified as a strict paleo diet – was on the road to recovery. Our passion and interest in supporting local farms and producers had been ignited in Berkeley. Right away, we started a meat- purchasing group from home. TK Ranch delivered hormone and antibiotic free meat to our door and friends would then come collect their portion. We were fortunate to have Gert Lund deliver his delicious carrots and root vegetables to our home in West Hillhurst when the outdoor Blackfoot Farmers Market was closed for the winter. 

 

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We were thrilled when we discovered Sunnyside Market! It quickly became our favourite grocery store in Calgary. It reminded us of the small neighbourhood stores in Berkeley, where we knew the owners and staff and would run into friends and neighbours while shopping. Finally, in 2005 the opportunity arose, and we made the big decision to purchase the store. The journey has led beyond the health of the body to the health of a community - whether that be friends, family, neighbours, or farmers. 

Over the years, the store has evolved into a community hub of good food and social activism. In 2012 we joined forces with Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, a collaboration with our good friends Aviv Fried and Michal Lavi that has furthered the goal of fostering a vibrant local community. 

The heart of Sunnyside Natural Market will always be the simple passion that started it all: great food. 

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Patty Nowlin head shot 1

Patty Nowlin Posted Sep 8, 2016