[Courtesy photo]

Shane Huggar has been working at Moonflower Community Cooperative, the first member-owned natural foods cooperative in Utah, since 2013. He’s held almost every position in the store, eventually working his way up to become the general manager, a position he started last October.

What he enjoys most about working at Moonflower is the Moab community, he said.

“The best part is the locals, and seeing the same faces and having conversations with everyone,” he said. “That’s always been my favorite part of this job is slowly meeting everybody … I just really enjoy the community.”

The Moab Sun talked with Huggar about where the store has been, where it’s going and how he fits into that vision as its general manager.

Moab Sun: In the years since you’ve been working at Moonflower, how have you seen it change?

Shane Huggar: We’ve been growing quite a bit. I started buying back when we had the old store, right before the remodel. For years, I felt like I was adding new products. And we slowly got to a point last year where it was like, there’s no more room for new products. So we have to be careful about that now. So of course we’ve grown, and our capacity to serve more people has grown, and I think our employee base has grown too, to handle that.

New faces are the biggest change, and overseeing the remodel itself was pretty big [In 2017, the co-op unveiled its remodel, which expanded the store’s retail space, renovated older infrastructure and built a new kitchen. -ed]. All the products have been changing too since then—you always have the same basics in a health food store, but in Moab, we’ve worked with a few different local farms.

Moab Sun: What does your typical day look like?

Huggar: It depends on what shift I’m doing. But it consists of ordering and questions from employees—I’ll check in with everybody around the store to see what’s going on. In that time I’ll probably run into a few customers and have a few talks there. Then it’s like, make sure all the bills are paid, sign checks, check the email, get back to any urgent things that are going on—those are most of the daily things that happen here.

Moab Sun: What role do you think Moonflower plays in the Moab community?

Huggar: I think it’s definitely a place where people come to have conversations, whether you want to or not. You’re always gonna meet somebody here. It’s kind of a daily hub for a lot of people—we have our deli, or people stopping by to grab a drink, even though we don’t really have the seating inside anymore, it still feels like a community place where people check in often.

Moab Sun: As general manager, what goals do you have for the future and how will you bring them to fruition?

Huggar: My main goal is to keep the store going as well as it has been going. That’s hugely dependent on staff—like keeping the store staff and keeping the food coming, which is more challenging than ever this year with all the supply chain issues. I want to keep the forward momentum going.

Long term, I mean, there’s not much growing we can do in this space. I don’t know if [the board] will have plans or not to open a new location—but I also wouldn’t want us to lose this location, because I think it’s a great spot.

Moab Sun: You mentioned a few of the challenges this year brought concerning pandemic-related issues like the supply chain. How have you been trying to manage those challenges?

Huggar: I’m looking for other options for sources of food, in terms of our distributors. That seems to be our main issue, is only relying on one distributor is really hard. But we do have a lot of outside vendors, which is good, because that gives us more chances to have more products. I’m looking into getting involved with other distributors and hopefully, getting more involved locally.

It’s just about diversifying and keeping ourselves open to however we can help farmers in our area, and making more regional and national contacts.

Moab Sun: Do you have anything else you want to add?

Huggar: I just really appreciate this job, and this opportunity to step up. I’ve been here for so long, so I have a good idea of the basics of the store. I really appreciate the opportunity to be a general manager and keep it going here. I feel like it’s home, you know?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.