Not too many people would describe their grocery store in terms of its energy levels, but perhaps that’s because they’ve never been to Earthgoods.
Earthgoods has been in business in New Paltz for over 30 years, but both its mission and its appearance have been rejuvenated under the new ownership of Clement Lau.
Lau took over the store eight months ago at the end of June. Since then, he has implemented various changes to the store.
“For me, I’m doing this more than just running a typical store; I have a bigger vision,” he said. “We’re selling local organic natural sustainable products, and at the same time, integrating community, philanthropy, spirituality and education.”
One of the changes that Earthgoods has undergone with new ownership is the appearance of the store itself. The store has been completely reorganized, one of the most notable changes being the sitting area at the front of the store looking out onto Main Street.
Lau said that this space is very important to his overall vision as it fosters conversation and a stronger sense of community.
“That’s why I have this sitting area, because it’s important. I consider it a place like a community store where I draw people in and there’s an exchange of energy, resources and knowledge,” Lau said. “It”s really promoting health of the mind, body and spirit.”
According to Marigo Farr, an Earthgoods employee, Lau has made a pronounced effort to give back to the community. Farr said Earthgoods is involved in philanthropic efforts “pretty much all the time.”
“Clement is really into philanthropy and we’ve had a lot of different fund raisers and food drives,” Farr said. “We’ve donated food to family of New Paltz and we were involved in the Turkey Trot, and this month we’re donating 2 percent of sales to Mohonk Preserve.”
The Earthgoods staff also wants to reach out to SUNY New Paltz students.
Lau said SUNY students, as well as faculty and staff, all get a 10 percent discount.
“I’m very open to talking to them,” he said. “I’m very supportive of community and student events, if there are any student associations that need sponsoring and want business contribution.”
Recognizing that people are concerned about the expense of organic food, Lau said pricing is something that he has been very aware of and he tries to make the products at Earthgoods affordable.
Prices of milk, soy milk, frozen food and produce have been lowered. On Tuesdays, the store also offers a 20 percent produce sale. Additionally, Lau said the store offers “loyalty cards” to customers; every time they spend $20 they get a stamp, and will receive a discount once they have 10 stamps on the card.
Lau said owning this business gives him a platform to be creative and put different things together.
“Food, education, community, spirituality, philanthropy – those are all different aspects of me,” he said. “When you’re working for somebody in a corporate job, there’s a very limited capacity to show that. Being here, I have the ability to display and showcase different aspects of me.”