The amount of masked truths can be shocking after initiative is taken to delve into a widely unquestioned topic. For Giles Donovan, watching an informational documentary on food sourcing and animal treatment was what catalyzed his yearning to research in-depth about where food comes from and how it is produced. Much to the benefit of Donovan’s larger surrounding communities, the fruits of his reaction ended up serving the eating habits of those around him.
One of the end results was the creation of Santa Monica Merchant, which, at only about a month old, is the most recently opened store out of the three healthy, reliable food sources that Donovan has founded. Though most of its grocery delivery services are for members only, the membership requirement – a one-time administration fee of $20 – will likely seem miniscule upon realizing the benefits of this unique food source.
Santa Monica Merchant provides local, organic food products both in-store and delivered to homes. The products come from about 30 different vendors, including farmers, growers, ranchers, and animal handlers, all of which have been personally scouted out by Donovan himself.
He visits farms every Monday, ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego, to examine the food products in-person and take a hands-on approach in picking and choosing the quality of the food he will be selling. Since Santa Monica Merchant will only support and purchase from vendors who practice the appropriate ethics in food preparation, Donovan has created a kind of incentive for farmers and growers.
“We want to reward those who do it right,” Donovan explained.
His vibrant passion for his job as well as his beliefs – that the proper treatment of animals directly and significantly impacts the quality of the food products – is very apparent in his intimate role in the function of his company.
In fact, Donovan and his wife spent one of their anniversary weekends camping in between vendors, determined to learn more about food sources.
Donovan’s enthusiasm is also reflected in the manner in which he elaborates on what Santa Monica Merchant does. He excitedly described the extensive process in which Santa Monica Merchant prepares all of their food, from the initial butchering of the grass-fed animal to the preserving of vitamins and nutrients within the final meat product.
Donovan confidently calls his meat “the best beef in California,” as the careful manner in which Santa Monica Merchant ensures the quality of its food serves as a stark contrast to many grocery store models. Oftentimes there is a competition between shelf life and taste within grocery markets, as food products must be in stock regardless of whether or not they are eventually bought.
“We want to change the way our food system works,” he said.
Donovan and his staff are willing to pay a little more for better quality products, as well as ensure wide accessibility and affordable pricing for their customers. In fact, with the help of its members, Santa Monica Merchant can offer food products at prices that are 15 percent less than in normal grocery stores. Santa Monica Merchant aims to make absolutely no compromises when it comes to the quality of the taste.
The official website therefore serves as a vital organ of the company, as the food orders placed online can potentially be picked from the ground that same day and delivered to the doorstep only hours later.
The assortment of fresh produce available on the website alongside corresponding images all come from a variety of vendors: the tomatoes and the pesto in one of the pasta sauces has been harvested from two different farms less than 48 hours prior to the meal. In this way, online grocery shopping is the most efficient way to serve customers, as it creates a much shorter supply chain between grower and consumer.
From grass-fed beef to house-made almond milk to baked bread, the bounty of groceries available leaves room for versatility in your meals. Santa Monica Merchant plans on adding even more variety to the mix soon.
Here’s how the online shopping process works: members pick a selection of groceries, keeping in mind that substitutions and additions can be made. There are options of either weekly of bimonthly delivery, with deliveries sent out on Mondays and Thursdays. There are also weekly seasonal recipes available online, which conveniently provide product recommendations and serving sizes. “Dinner Tonight” is a special feature on the website that is also available to non-members: prepared dinner deliveries can be sent to your home as long as the residence is in the city of Santa Monica.
However, the only catch as of now is that the grocery deliveries at the Santa Monica branch cannot launch until a quota of 150 members is reached.
Currently, Santa Monica Merchant is at a total of 80 members, with delicious “inaugural dinners” held in-store every time another 50 members sign up. With the original Venice branch at about 600 members despite its relatively recent opening in 2012, there is no doubt that the quality service will carry on at Santa Monica Merchant.
The prerequisites of membership include an administration fee of $20 as well as residency in Santa Monica. Santa Monica Merchant is located at 395 Santa Monica Place in The Market. To sign up for membership or for more information, call 310.929.5902 or visit santamonicamerchant.com.