By Richard M. Madowitz, Owner and Property Manager
Cornucopia, a natural foods store in Thornes Marketplace since June 1980, changed hands for the first time on March 18, when co-owners Bud Stockwell and Sydney Flum-Stockwell sold the business to two employees, also a husband-and-wife team.
Nate Clifford and Jade Jump of South Hadley bought Cornucopia and Bud’s secondary business, Heavenly Chocolate, also in Thornes, for an undisclosed amount. Nate has worked at Cornucopia since October 2015, starting as a grocery buyer and quickly becoming general manager. Jade works in marketing for Cornucopia and is overseeing a rebrand for the store, complete with a new website and signage.
They have had their eye on ownership for several years, and we are excited for them. Bud tells us they are “the real deal.”
At 66, Bud was looking for a successor and identified early on in Nate’s employment that he was an excellent candidate for an ownership transition. Nate and Jade have a vision that meshes with Bud’s. He wouldn’t have sold the store to someone who didn’t share his values. Plus, Nate and Jade have a lot of energy and are not afraid to try new things. “Being younger, they have their fingers on the pulse,” Bud said. “I look forward to seeing what they do with it.”
Nate, 36, and Jade, 34, are nervous and excited about the endeavor, but they are clear the decision was right for them, the store, Thornes, and the wider community. “We’re the right people at the right time for this transition,” Nate said. “We’re looking forward to making good things happen and having a good time.”
We are looking forward to that too!
Nate and Jade will also take ownership of Heavenly Chocolate, on our main floor, which Bud founded in 2007 because he was looking for a new challenge.
Bud will continue to be involved in the businesses for at least one year on an as-needed basis to assist Nate and Jade with decision-making, trouble-shooting, training and oversight. “It’s my baby,” Bud said. He feels bittersweet about the move but feels the call to retire. Nate is grateful he will have Bud here and available so he might avoid mistakes and pitfalls.
I remember Bud and Sydney from the very start of the Thornes we know today. Their contributions to Thornes and downtown Northampton cannot be overstated. Customers and merchants will all miss Bud. He’s an extremely talented and intellectually bright retailer who offered guidance to many retailers in Thornes who were trying to solve vexing business issues. Bud was always willing to assist our younger entrepreneurs.
I also welcome Nate and Jade as tenants of Thornes. We are glad they decided to join the Thornes community of energetic, talented and youthful entrepreneurs who we hope will become leaders in the Northampton community.
Bud will surely miss Cornucopia’s regular customers. Some of those customers from the early days have grandchildren who shop here!
Nate and Jade moved from the eastern part of the state in the fall of 2015. They both had worked at Cambridge Naturals, a small, independently owned natural foods store similar to Cornucopia, and looked for a like-minded business in this region.
Bud knew early on that Nate and Jade were great candidates for buyer for their enthusiasm, openness to change, and their value system. He felt this was the team that had the chops to run this business. Nate and Jade share similar ethics with Bud around products and quality control. The store will continue in a way Bud can feel good about.
The Stockwells opened Cornucopia on June 20, 1980, to provide high-quality natural foods, reduce packaging and serve as a resource for customers. Back then, Bud said natural foods was a new concept; people who supported natural foods were often derisively called “fruits and nuts.”
The natural foods movement has come a long way.
Cornucopia was the first business on our lower level. That was terrifying for Bud at the time; there was no other draw to bring customers downstairs. In the early years, he ran the business with Sydney, and his mother and grandmother also helped when needed. The business now has 25 employees, 10 of whom are full time.
Nate and Jade have some plans and ideas for change at Cornucopia, such as expanding the body care and supplements selections and partnering with more local food suppliers. They also plan to bring back prepped foods, such as sandwiches, which they will prepare in the Heavenly Chocolate kitchen.
Bud has been a quiet pillar in our local business community leading by taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to the wellness of Northampton. He feels proud to have been part of the community for so many years. He loves Northampton and feels blessed to have been able to be a part of the vibrancy of it.
Thank you, Bud, for all you have done for downtown Northampton!
To learn more about Cornucopia, visit https://www.cornucopianoho.com.