The Collegian
Thursday, December 03, 2020

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Local grocery store stops selling products at on-campus dining locations

Ellwood Thompson’s, a locally owned and operated organic grocery store in Richmond, began selling its products at University of Richmond dining locations including Passport, ETC and 8:15 at Boatwright in February.

However, shortly thereafter, these products seemed to disappear from the refrigerators at these campus stores.

Snack assortments and premade food such as pastas and salads from Ellwood’s were first received at UR on Feb. 15, and the final deliveries were made to campus stores on Feb. 27, Josh Wroniewicz, director of purchasing at UR, said in an email.

The owner of Ellwood Thompson’s contacted Wroniewicz by email on Feb. 22, saying that Ellwood’s was discontinuing wholesale operations to focus on retail inside the store, Wroniewicz said.

Wroniewicz first heard from Ellwood Thompson’s in October, when their catering manager reached out about grab-and-go sales on campus, he said. They traded emails for a few months and had two in-person meetings to sample products and provide feedback, Wroniewicz said.

“We worked with them over the next couple of months to get them authorized as a vendor at UR and to find products and sizes that made sense for our locations to sell,” Wroniewicz said.

In February, however, Ellwood’s discontinued all of its wholesale operations, not just those at UR, in order to focus on selling products within the Ellwood’s store, Bart Yablonsky, director of operations at Ellwood’s, said.

Ellwood’s had been doing other wholesale business with breweries and other small stores in the area, but UR was its first large account on a campus, he said.

“We just were on campus for about a week and a half, and then decided internally that it was not the right avenue for us as a company to do that,” Yablonsky said. “It had nothing to do with the campus or anything. The campus obviously enjoyed the food. It was just something internally we couldn’t continue to do.”

Working with the University of Richmond procurement office was a great experience for the Ellwood Thompson’s staff and the people at UR were very helpful, Yablonsky said.

Sophomore Claire Griffiths said she had enjoyed the food from Ellwood Thompson’s while it was on campus because there were many vegetarian options. She liked that she was given an alternative to the one vegetarian weekly special at Passport, she said.

“I was able to have more options that weren’t the same foods I was eating every day,” Griffiths said. “It was nice, because it was premade, but fresh. I really enjoyed it, and then was super confused when they stopped.”

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Griffiths said she hoped UR would continue to look for more vegetarian and healthy options.

The UR procurement team will continue its quest to find good, prepared foods to sell in campus retail stores, Wroniewicz said.

“Dining Services and our purchasing team are always looking for ways to incorporate local foods, healthy foods and well-known products on campus,” Wroniewicz said. “We were thrilled to work with Ellwood Thompson’s, as they meet all of these standards, and are disappointed that they are no longer selling to us.”

Contact contributor Sara Schuham at sara.schuham@richmond.edu. 

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