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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Dawson’s Market Celebrates Community in Rockville and Beyond

Jul 29, 2014 03:05AM
Opening in September 2012, Dawson’s Market joined Rockville Town Square as its anchor natural grocery store but has quickly established itself as an anchor for the community; a feat that begins with living up to their slogan, “Celebrating community through local and organic food.”

Independently owned by Rick Hood, this small business is able to connect customers with local vendors, many who are too little or too new to sell in larger chain stores. When Dawson’s says local, they mean it—labeling food within a 100-mile radius as local and anything between a 100- and 300-mile radius as regional.

Along with touting local foods, Dawson’s offers a wide variety of specialty foods. From organic to gluten-free, vegetarian to vegan, their staff can deliver or even teach customers about what foods will fit their dietary restrictions. These foods aren’t just sold in the aisles; they can also be found in the coffee and juice bar or enjoyed in their café area.

The “celebrating” part of Dawson’s slogan comes in a diverse range of monthly events. Assistant manager Mike Houston’s favorite is their Jazz Brunch where he can listen to music, eat food, and mingle with customers who return each month for the event. Meanwhile, marketing coordinator Jamie Grubby enjoys the children’s cooking class, where kids are not only taught about healthy food, but also shown where it can be found in the store.

Dawson’s Market has even maintained two beloved community events, taking them on as their own. When the Rockville Farmers’ Market was going to be closed to make way for construction, Dawson’s saved it by relocating it to their store. Now the farmers’ market can still be shopped Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with old and new vendors alike. Similarly, when the wine tasting and live music event, Wine Down, was possibly not returning to the square, Dawson’s successfully began to hold the event every Thursday in the summer months at their store.

For those with their own ideas on how to come together and celebrate community, the store’s café is available for use by local groups. Some of these groups currently include the Rockville Running Club, a knitting club and a real estate group.

Possibly the best way Dawson’s Market celebrates and shows its love for the community it serves is by investing money back into it. This is accomplished by using local businesses and services, like a local bank and pest control company. One of Dawson’s produce suppliers, Quarter Branch Farm, removes the compost produced in the store and the market is even a county pickup station for free compost bins.

With the success of Dawson’s Market—where even the mayor shops—plans could soon be underway for another store in the D.C. metro area. “There are several communities that are in the need for a grocery store like us. They want a natural food store that’s more of a community-based company,” believes general manager Bart Yablonsky. He continues, “There are a lot of communities but it’s about finding the location in those communities.”

For more information on Dawson’s Market, visit their highly informative website or visit them in person at 225 N. Washington St. in Rockville.

Samantha Hudgins is a writing enthusiast and outreach director for Natural Awakenings DC.


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