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Case Study: People's Food Co-op Kalamazoo

Case Study: People's Food Co-op Kalamazoo

Name of Business

People’s Food Co-op Kalamazoo

Type of Business

Co-op Grocery Store


Kalamazoo, MI

About People’s Food Co-op Kalamazoo

The People’s Food Co-op is more than a grocery store; it is a consumer-owned cooperative business, which means it’s owned and controlled by the people who use it. Kalamazoo’s Co-op currently has over 2,400 community members and shoppers who have financially invested in the store and thus are Co-op owners. Unlike a business owned by an individual, family, or a corporation, profits from the store return to their owners or are used to help the store better serve the community’s needs. In Kalamazoo, they work hard to provide their customers with a wide selection of nutritious, wholesome foods that are free of chemicals, preservatives, and additives.

The Partnership

The People’s Food Co-op Kalamazoo first sold Water Street coffee in bulk. Instead of a bulk offering, Water Street suggested retailing bagged coffee to ensure freshness. Often times grocery stores have limited shelf space, so The People’s Food Co-op and Water Street got creative and collaborated to build a beautiful custom display to house Water Street’s coffees and teas. The partnership has been going strong since! Now Water Street ensures the shelves are packed and the customers have plenty of opportunities to sample and learn about quality, local coffee and tea while enjoying their shopping experience at PFC Kalamazoo.

Services Include

• Retail Coffee
• Retail Tea
• Sampling Program
• Custom Display Unit

‘Why Water Street?’ In Their Words

Easy to Work With

“We have a good relationship with the team over at Water Street, but I like that I can order online anytime I want. As a buyer, I think that’s helpful because buyers are busy with lots of people and brands to connect with.”

Active Sampling Program

“One of the best ways to get people excited about a product is to offer samples. Water Street helps us run a very active sampling program on many Fridays.”

Problem Solvers

“Most of our coffee comes in bulk, but Water Street had freshness concerns. So we needed to figure out how to merchandise bagged coffee to make it look great when we have bulk product that is cheaper in price. Plus, it’s a local product so we wanted to support it. Water Street was up for getting creative and collaborating so we could make a space for their bagged coffee that looked great and was appealing for customers.”


“Working with Water Street Coffee is a comfortable environment. I am busy and sometimes I don’t get back to our sales rep right away, but when I reach out they are extremely responsive and it never feels high pressure. They have built a great relationship with our team.”

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