Bob Landman, owner of Good Earth Natural Foods in Broad Ripple, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday night, December 6th. The news hit hard in our household, as I know it will in households across Indianapolis, the state, and even the nation as the online store services customers all over the United States.
I never saw Bob without receiving a boisterously friendly greeting, usually accompanied by a funny quip or spontaneous serenade. As a customer, he (and the staff) made me feel welcome and made me want to come back. I’ll admit that I’ve sought out the Good Earth on a “bad day,” knowing the warmth and coziness of the store always makes me feel happy. If Bob was there, he would be sure to make me laugh, and I could top the whole experience with an indulgent Mocha Pie or oatmeal cake! Who could ask for more?
While I know people for whom the maze-like, filled-to-the-gills store and “everybody knows your name” atmosphere is at first intimidating, I am sure that those Bob-like qualities of quirkiness, warmth, welcoming, (and slight uncertainty of what might happen next when you’re there) have been to the key to keeping the Good Earth open for nearly 40 years. Yes, the shoes are great, the inventory is vast, the staff are patiently helpful, and the prices are great. But I believe the greatest success of the Good Earth has been building a community of customers that make it more than just a place to shop. Bob gave this city an alternative to the big box grocery when there were no other options, and even as other options have come and gone, the Good Earth has remained – locally owned and operated, supported by a community of local customers.
Bob will be dearly and deeply missed. The presence and energy he gave the store are irreplaceable, and yet I believe the heart he gave the store will continue to beat strongly in the community he helped create. And so, a thousand thanks to Bob for being himself, and for believing in his little store with big heart! His greetings, jokes, songs and musings will echo within the walls of the Good Earth, and leave smiling ripples in the community for years to come.