Our Mission Statement
From Section 1.2 of the Basics Bylaws:
“… The mission of the Co-op is to serve the community by: operating a socially responsible and financially sound business that provides a full selection of natural foods and quality products; offering a variety of necessities at basic prices; providing friendly, knowledgeable customer service; promoting awareness about food, nutrition, health, and cooperative values; and providing a workplace that fosters opportunities for participation, empowerment, and growth in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation. The Co-op is organized and shall be operated exclusively on a cooperative and nonprofit basis.”
A Basics History Lesson
Local residents Peter Roang and Deb Ramsdell co-founded Basics Natural Foods in 1977. The original location was at 1616 West Court Street, a 400 square foot store run by five or six employees. It was the first store of its kind in the area and a member of the emerging natural foods movement in the United States, focused on creating a better world through better diets and more sustainable food production. Although some items were delivered directly to the store, many had to be picked up from suppliers. Many of the items sold were bulk items dispensed out of white buckets or large jars. Partnerships with local sustainable producers were established – many that would go on to last decades, and even to this day.
In 1978 Basics became a worker’s collective, which disbanded shortly thereafter when several members chose to follow different career paths. Basics Collective became Basics Natural Foods, a partnership owned and operated by Peter Roang, Debra Ramsdell and Karin Roang Jordan, Peter’s sister. In 1981 the partnership was converted to a corporation.
In the meantime, interest in cooking with the “new” foods offered at Basics had spawned another idea based on natural foods – a natural vegetarian restaurant in Janesville. Although it was separately owned, the Basics founders and staff were instrumental in helping to establish and support The Wheatberry. The Wheatberry’s menu offered a wide range of natural, vegetarian fare, from an array of smoothies to famous muffins to entrees featuring tofu and hearty soups. Sadly, the Wheatberry closed in the early 1990’s, but many in the area still wistfully remember the tofu casserole and ask about the salad dressing they so fondly remember.
Karin sold her shares of Basics to her two fellow owners and returned to her former career as a special education teacher, but she would later serve on the board of Basics Cooperative for several years.
Basics continued to expand its offerings. In 1989 the store moved from Court Street to a larger facility at 610 E. Memorial Drive. This was more than double the square footage, and now Basics had about 12 to 15 employees. Peter purchased Debra’s shares in the business and became the sole shareholder.
Loyalty of the locals grew, and so did interest in natural foods and supplements. Basics quickly outgrew the Memorial Drive location.
In 1996 Basics again relocated and expanded. This time it was to 1221 Woodman Road. The store boasted over 8,000 square feet and grew to 25 employees.
The 25th anniversary of Basics’ founding was celebrated on Woodman Road in 2002, with Peter proudly complimenting the many staff who then ran the store and reminiscing about the many changes that had occurred since its opening. But Peter did not, even then, think that this was the end of the changes that he or Basics would experience. He was already thinking about the “next step” – turning the store into a cooperative. Peter had grown more interested in the cooperative model while serving as Chairman of the Board for Blooming Prairie Cooperative, then the largest distributor of natural foods in the Midwest.
Upon Peter’s untimely and sudden death in 2003, his son, S. David Roang, took over ownership of Basics. The store never closed. However, David was at the time also practicing law.
David wanted to see his father’s dream fulfilled. He realized that making the store a cooperative would hold the answer, allowing him to return full-time to his law practice and preserving the store for its customers and its community. On January 2, 2005 Basics became a cooperative.
By 2008, 2,350 Basics Co-op Owner households were helping to improve our economy, support local farmers and businesses, and educate the community on health and wellness.
On October 1st, 2008, Basics Cooperative opened at 1711 Lodge Drive in Janesville. Our current location boasts over 15,000 square feet and several added features and departments: a Deli & Coffee Bar, Fresh Meat, a natural Shizen Sushi Bar, an entire Gluten Free aisle, Free Wi-Fi, a Lounge and Children’s Play Area, a Community Room for cooking classes, seminars and private bookings, and of course, enlightened hospitality by our knowledgeable and caring staff of 35+ employees!
When planning the 2008 move, we made every effort to go as green as possible. Local vendors were utilized for renovations and construction. We became the first business in Rock County to employ solar power, which offsets the lighting for the entire store each year. We installed recycled flooring, equipment, and coolers, as well as a rack system which reclaims hot air from coolers to use for heating and cooling the store. Back rooms and restrooms are equipped with light sensors, and paint used is “Leed” certified. Our parking lot includes added parking spots with chargers for electric cars.
Since beginning in 2005 with fewer than 250 members, the Ownership of Basics Cooperative has steadily grown. As of late 2015 we have over 4,800 Owners.
Much has changed since Basics first opened in the tiny brick building on Court Street, but some things have remained the same. The store continues to focus on offering natural foods and supplements at fair prices sold by knowledgeable staff in a friendly environment. “Basics” and “health” have been linked in many people’s minds for many years … and we hope they will continue to be linked for many years to come. Thank you for your support!
Not yet a Co-op Owner? Learn more.
News & Awards!
Basics is honored to have been recognized in the media for various efforts, as well as chosen to receive several awards over the years. Here are a few notable accomplishments:
Recognized as one of the ” Top 100 Health Food Stores In The Nation” by Health Foods Business
Jessica Lawton, a local triathlete sponsored by Basics, qualified for the 2004 Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii
Peter Roang Memorial Scholarship Fund established with Spotlight on Kids, an organization dedicated to bringing kids into the dramatic arts. Basics also was the lead sponsor of Spotlight on Kids’ presentation of Peter Pan.
Jane Stamm, Health and Beauty manager, featured in the December issue of Health Products Business magazine
Featured as Energy Times “Retailer of the Month” in the industry-leading Energy Times Healthy Profits mailing
Won a 3rd Place award from Garden of Life for an innovative display of Garden of Life Products!
2005 “Retailer of the Year” award from (leading national trade magazine!) Whole Foods Magazine
David Roang named one of the “50 People Who Matter” by the Janesville Gazette, largely because of his work in putting together the Basics Cooperative.
1st place People’s Choice in Janesville’s Labor Day Parade
1st place People’s Choice in Janesville’s Labor Day Parade
Our farm-fresh eggs mentioned in February gazettextra.com blog entry by Lisa Parsley, “I’m such a chicken when it comes to chickens” Read Blog
Got a “Thumbs Up” in the Janesville Gazette for being a drop-off site for #5 plastics. Also featured that day in a gazettextra.com blog post by Greg Peck, “Why the city won’t recycle more plastics” Read Blog Entry
Presented with Janesville’s first ever “Eco Friendly Business Award” from Forward Janesville,at the Rock Regional Business Expo in October.
Basics youth programming Featured in Taste For Life magazine! Read Article
Basics Board President David Roang on Co-ops and the 2012 United Nations International Year of Co-ops LIVE on Local Radio Station WCLO: Listen to Recording
Basics featured in the October issue of Retail Confectioner magazine! Read Article
Basics featured on local talk show Talk of the Town on CW57
The Basics Bulk Bin Band makes their debut in the Labor Day Parade- and wins 1st Place Judges Choice!