Anne Hopkins, general manager of Lexington's Good Foods Market & Cafe (Photo from Bourbon & Beans)
By Michelle Aiello
Bourbon and Beans
Anne Hopkins is a California girl, but she’s been in Kentucky so long that folks say she has the accent. She moved to the Commonwealth in 1974 as a “back to the lander” with a mission to share her love of agriculture and sustainable business practices.
It’s no wonder she’s found her place as the longtime general manager of Goods Foods Market & Café. This year, the co-op is celebrating 40 years of bringing affordable, high-quality foods and natural products to Lexington, (many from local producers), all with a business model that allows the community to make decisions democratically as owners.
Anne has a fun, lively spirit and is clearly passionate about her work. We sat down with her and chatted about how she got where she is.
Q. Favorite bourbon?
Woodford Reserve. ‘Nuff said.
Q. Favorite bean?
Anasazi. Supposedly these ancient beans from the Southwest don’t produce that infamous gas we tend to worry about.
Q. Do you consider yourself to be sassy?
Well, I was pretty sassy as a California hippie back in the old days. Now I think I’m more sprightly.
Q. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A great cup of Fair Trade coffee and the knowledge I can help change the world of agriculture by providing a place that sells great locally grown food.
Q. What is the biggest business challenge you face right now?
Whittling all of our great ideas down into a realistic business plan for 2013.
Q. What’s a great book you recently read?
A Place in Time by Wendell Berry. I love his Port William family of characters and his way of showing us how shifts in American agricultural practices have shaped some of the extremely serious issues we face today.
Q. When do you know it’s time for a vacation?
When any one of these thoughts becomes overwhelming: my desire to hug my parents or my daughter, my desire to walk in the ocean with my husband, or my desire to walk in our farm woods.
Q. What’s one of your leadership secrets?
I always try to assume the best until proven otherwise—the vast majority of people want to do right and it’s important to hear their story.
Q.When you’re off work, where can we find you in Lexington (or surrounding areas)?
I love to walk in my neighborhood, at the Arboretum and at Raven Run. You’ll also see me at the library almost every week because I’m a voracious reader.
Q. What do you look for in an employee or business partnership?
We look for passion, dedication, great customer skills and the ability to work any time.
Q. What’s a quote or saying that gets you through the tough days?
I love quotes and aphorisms! Here are some of my favorites: “Talents are best nurtured in solitude but character is best found in the stormy billows of the world.” –Goethe “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” -Jonathan Winters.
And lastly: “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.” -Anonymous
Q. How do you relish your successes?
A lovely glass of Champagne, of course! And maybe a piece of pie…
Q. Why is it important to buy from local businesses?
Local businesses build community in many ways. Instead of having sales revenue satellited to a faraway corporate headquarters every midnight, the money spent at a local business stays in the community an average of almost three times as long. Local businesses tend to support other local businesses while contributing to the uniqueness and distinctive character of a community. Local ownership helps ensure that important decisions are made locally by those who will be impacted by the decisions.
Q. What will you do when you retire?
Retire? Really? Hmm. I’d love to run an agri/eco-tourism bed and breakfast for exhausted city folks where they could relax, collect eggs, pet sheep and eat good healthy farm-raised organic food I cook from scratch.
Michelle Aiello is Chicago-born writer and self-publisher, now living in Bourbon County. She writes for the Lexington marketing company Bourbon & Beans and works with local businesses to refine their look and message. She is the writer and publisher of Indigo zine and organizer of Ephemera Festival.