Columinate’s roots are in helping people be successful in retail grocery. We grew up with food co-ops and natural foods independent retailers and we have a top-tier set of experts who know what it takes to run successful grocery stores.

Our consultants are teachers as well as experts and understand that the store’s management and staff will be the ones to create lasting value from our work. Columinate’s consultants are on top of the many driving forces changing what it takes to be successful in today’s marketplace. We are especially excited about participating in new healthy food and food access projects in communities that have limited grocery options.

GM Hiring and Support

We know as well as anyone how challenging it can be to find qualified, capable, and caring general managers who know retail grocery.

General managers have to be able to effectively manage the operations of a retail store (or stores), as well as oversee budgeting, accounting, marketing, information technology and human resources, and report to a Board of Directors.

We are proud to have a wide range of offerings to help find the best possible leaders for you grocery business, including supporting you in the initial hiring search to onboarding, coaching, and training of newly hired GMs.

Flyout Close

Areas of Expertise

Gender Equity project

Despite cooperatives’ history of commitment to values of social progress, our recent study reveals that grocery co-op General Managers who identify as female are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.  We’ll be sharing our findings over the coming year, but our work doesn’t end in bringing this to light.

Learn More >>

Search Support

Hiring a General Manager is one of the biggest decisions a food co-op Board of Directors will ever make. A thorough, thoughtful and transparent process is needed to ensure the best outcome. We’re available to help! Contact us to learn how we can support your search process.

Contact Us >>

GM Development Program

Our experts offer guidance in: achieving financial metrics; accounting and financial document literacy; board relations and governance; marketing; HR; pricing and margin tools and POS systems; and co-op culture, diversity and engaging stakeholders.

Learn More >>

Leadership Coaching

Our team of executive coaches help general managers, CEOs, management teams and management-board leadership teams provide leadership necessary for growth and impact.

Learn More >>

Job Board

It can be challenging to find the right place to post your job openings and attract qualified candidates. The new Columinate Job Board will make it easy to post and fill all positions.

Learn More >>

Compensation Database

The new and improved Columinate Compensation Database includes GM, department, and administrative manager roles; tags to include trans and non-binary people; and tags so the database can report BIPOC equity issues and progress.

Learn More >>

Retail operations improvement

Our experts can assist in almost every aspect of running your retail grocery operation.

Here are a few key areas where our consultants can provide professional, results-driven, support to help your grocery’s margin and mission.

Flyout Close

Areas of Expertise

  • Financial fluency, key metrics and bottom line results through effective oversight
  • Point of sale, finance and IT systems assessment and development
  • Product mix, category management, financial benchmarks
  • Pricing strategies for each unique market place
  • Center store excellence, shopping experience, internal metrics and standards
  • Fresh department specialization, market differentiation, internal metrics & standards
  • Prepared foods program, financial, fixture planning and development, and operations consulting
  • Safety and security, emergency preparedness plans, staff training
  • Mighty Community Markets, presented by Jeanie Wells, provides comprehensive and accessible training for leaders at small grocery markets

Management on Contract services

When co-ops enter a time of transition, they can turn to Columinate’s group of experts available for contract management services. These folks step in as Interim General Managers (IGMs) to work fast and smart, implementing lasting change for their clients. Ranging from a few months to a few years, IGM engagements are meant to bridge a co-op from Point A to Point B. IGM’s are change agents, troubleshooters, stabilizers.

Investing in an IGM is investing in an impartial, skilled leader to move you forward and set you up for success. They can help you remedy struggling sales, negative workplace culture, labor efficiency, and much more, leaving your store and team in better shape than when we got there.


Flyout Close

Find out more

Columinate offers Management on Contract services for Interim or Initial General Manager (IGM), Store Manager and possibly other management positions. Our management team is made of highly qualified experts who can assess operational systems, organizational structure and staff development opportunities, retail strategy, and provide high level financial analysis of your operation. IGM’s are change agents, troubleshooters, stabilizers who produce positive outcomes for their clients.


Natural Foods Independent Retailers

Columinate Consultants serve independent retailers!

Columinate consultant’s expertise extends to Independent, Family-Owned, ESOP, and any independently-owned and operated grocery; whether one location, or a dozen, we can serve you! Strategic partnerships with independent support organizations like INFRA, and regional trade associations, such as the Provender Alliance give us high visibility into the daily struggles unique to independent grocery chains.

Flyout Close

Columinate consultants bring decades of experience working with independent, community-minded grocery stores.

After over 40 years, we’ve grown into an organization of more than 40 highly experienced professionals who provide comprehensive retail grocery consulting services. We help each community grocer we work with achieve their fullest potential and be among the most valuable resources in their community. We are ready to help grocers through these challenging times and excel in the years ahead.

HR/Workplace Culture

Happy staff members are much more likely to provide high-quality service, stay with your company longer, promote your business in the community and contribute more to your bottom line.

Flyout Close

How we help

  • Being an excellent employer, HR systems, staff culture, staff development
  • Creating effective and efficient organization structure, roles and increased capacity
  • Leading change and creating intentional and empowered workplace culture
  • Managing conflict, crucial conversations, accountability to organizational needs
  • Compensation analysis and wage equity
  • Planning for intentionally growing diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplace

Small Community Markets

Flyout Close

How we help

Small community grocery stores are essential to their towns. But small independent grocery stores have unique challenges that need unique solutions. Columinate has a core team of operational consultants who specialize in helping small urban and rural grocery stores meet the multiple bottom lines necessary to serve their communities.

Mighty Community Markets, presented by Jeanie Wells, provides comprehensive and accessible training for leaders at small grocery markets.

Customized services for small grocery markets include:

  • Store audit and assessment
  • Financial assessment and improvement
  • Merchandising and layout support
  • Promotional and messaging

We support startups through:

  • Feasibility and planning
  • Member outreach and orientation
  • Implementation
Flyout Close


We recognize mission-driven organizations exist to build and maintain a support system that enables a faster and more effective startup process. Whether you’re growing your organization or a startup, Columinate supports you at each stage.

Columinate supports the four cornerstones in a simple development model for startup co-ops and organizations. 

Our consultants are equipped to offer the following start up support and expansion plan development services:

  • Market analysis
  • Financial modeling and feasibility
  • Strategic and business planning

Learn about these services

Columinate is proud to offer these two high-value resources to our cooperative community.

For information on subscribing to both of these services please contact us!

Flyout Close

Columinate Compensation Database

Organizational structure and cost of labor are critical strategic issues for grocery retail operators. The Columinate Compensation Database provides easy access to confidential and anonymous General Manager, Administrative and Department Manager comparable data. Our newly improved database is open to NCG member co-ops, small co-ops, non-NCG co-ops, and INFRA natural food independent retailers.


Columinate Job Board

It can be challenging to find the right place to post your job openings and attract qualified candidates. The new Columinate Job Board will make it easy to post and fill all positions.

Growth, Feasibility, and Capital

From owner capital campaigns to site analyses, we support organizations through all stages of growth.

Flyout Close

How we help

  • Community capital support
  • Growth and expansion
  • Market, location, and site analysis
  • Sales forecasting
  • Analyzing financial feasibility
  • Developing financial understanding
  • Remodel, expansion, and relocation analysis
  • Consumer research studies


Download informational flyers about: GM Development, GM Search Support, and Management on Contract Services.

Columinate Job Board

It can be challenging to find the right place to post your job openings and attract qualified candidates. The new Columinate Job Board will make it easy to post and fill all positions.

Launch a Career >>

Interested in learning more about how Columinate can support your retail operation?  Don’t be shy, contact us now.

Contact Us