Our Story

When I was 19 years old, I dropped out of college...

... got a job as a typesetter, bought a ‘68 VW Van to sleep in, saved up some money, sold the van, and moved to France, where I landed a job fixing up a chateau lost in the woodsy mountain range just north of the Pyrenees. When I wasn’t restoring eight-foot-tall oak shutters or building a stone wall, I’d shoot off on a motorcycle I’d picked up cheap to explore. One day, at a truck stop restaurant, I took a bite of the lunch special—steak and French fries—and that’s when everything changed for me.


A single crystal of salt...

The steak was studded with silvery chunks of coarse salt, with a minerally zing electrifying every bite. How can a steak be transcendent? I headed for the Atlantic coast where I met the salt maker, a humble but dashing man who gestured expansively over the wetlands where his salt farm lay and explained to me the simple facts of his trade: “This salt farm has been in continuous since Medieval monks established the system on the foundation of Roman salt works who built on Celtic salt works that go back to prehistory.” I was flabbergasted. A single crystal of salt had telescoped me through time and bound me in some intimate and unexpected ways to people and land and history itself.

Back then I would have never predicted I'd be working a retail shop.

But then again, I would never have predicted finding sushi at a county fair, or a veggie burger that bleeds, or a successful croissant-doughnut hybrid. I went back to college. I tried my hand at import/export in Paris. I sold wine. I built a database at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I CEO-ed a dot com company. I published news on superconductivity. A son was born, then a second. All the while, I travelled more often than is normal. One day my ex-wife and I decided to do the logical thing and open a flower shop. “And we can put all your salts in there too…. Get them out of the basement,” she said.

There was not a single molecule of my being that understood what I was getting myself into.

But there was a motive lurking deep down inside. All the years I’d travelled, all the joys and worries raising kids, all the sorrows and triumphs of an unsettled professional, had left me with a feeling that was only growing, taking on clarity, and quietly insisting on finding form. Bound up in this discovery of salt many years before was the realization that life is unspeakably beautiful, but you have to put yourself out there to see it. You have to give things a try, give people a try, risk yourself. What makes our lives meaningful and a joy are our connections to one another, to our history, and to our planet.

Bound up in this discovery of salt many years before was the realization that life is unspeakably beautiful...

... but you have to put yourself out there to see it. You have to give things a try, give people a try, risk yourself. What makes our lives meaningful and a joy are our connections to one another, to our history, and to our planet.

The Meadow was founded to give life to these shared connections. Salt, chocolate, bitters, flowers. Craft made salt for the delight of cooking and sharing a meal. Artisan chocolate bars for fun and sensual pleasure. Cocktail bitters for the drinks that bring friends together. Fresh cut flowers for the beauty of nature brought home. It was perfect!

The only problem was, I had zero idea how to run a retail shop.

Worse, I actually shied away from selling things. I just wanted to welcome people into the shop and then, once I had them cornered, tell stories about the people, places, and history salt, chocolate, bitters, and flowers. Looking back, this was a weird way to be.  Yet to this day the underlying sentiment of each of our team members remains the same. Every day is like an impromptu cocktail party, a welcoming place for creating and fostering connections. 

I remember our first few summers. Things were often slow back then. Sometimes I would just close the door and put a sign out saying “I’m at the brewery across the street. Come get me or call me on my cell and I’ll be right over!” We try not to do that any more, but if we do, we hope you’ll come over and join us.


With love,

Mark Bitterman

P.s. Now I'd like to think we have some idea of how to run a shop!

What we believe in...

Thinking small is thinking big.

Our shops are tiny. Like, really small. Yet each is a home to craftspeople, micro entrepreneurs, family businesses, and all manner of small, independent makers committed to ridiculously high-quality products. This means things are made with regenerative or sustainable ingredients. Hundreds of these tiny makers have gotten their start with The Meadow. When you visit us, you are surrounded by the loving creations of an entire industry of tiny companies making the world a better place. We’re just a small part of bringing them together.

Direct retail trade matters.

It’s more than a core value, it’s a better way. We start with direct trade products because they put more money in growers and suppliers hands, create relationships, and foster innovation, new investment, and awareness. As awesome as that is, growers and makers are only half the equation. We are pioneers of Direct Trade Retail, buy directly from makers whenever possible. Rather than squandering 30% the maker’s hard fought profit margin on a middle man, our dollars go directly to local small businesses everywhere. On average our small business partners put 400% more money into their local economies than big companies do, and spend 250% more on local events, teams, and charities. 

Little shops make your cities and towns the places you love.

That’s our mission.We believe in the power of hometown mainstreet, of a thriving commercial core where people know one another, work together, support one another, and walk amongst the fun and weirdness that is unique to your neck of the woods. We have an online shop (you are here!) but we would not hold it against you if you slapped shut that laptop or put that cell phone away and went out on the town to shop instead. But when you do shop with us, you’re joining us in advancing our mission other, but important ways.

We are small. (Smaller than you think.)

It’s by design. And we intend to stay this way. Our shipping department is in the back of one of our shops. There’s usually one person in there, reviewing orders, picking products from the shelves, finding the right box and shipping options, packing up everything carefully to that it achieves mutually impossible objectives (looking nice, not breaking in transit, and using only recyclable packing materials), and communicating in person when there are questions or concerns. We are small by design, because that’s the only way get to know you.

Creating a place that feels like home.

From the beginning we were about creating a place that felt like home - not just for our customers and vendors, but to our employees. We offered healthcare benefits to our very first employee. Soon we added retirement benefits, paid vacations, paid travel and other perks like payday salts and chocolates.

Where did the name The Meadow come from?

The vision for our shop was to create a place that feels like coming home. It is a welcoming place where we can slow down and enjoy ourselves. It’s a place you dream of stumbling into, as if by magic, as you wander through town, a place filled with fresh flowers and friendly people, with strange discoveries everywhere. Where else could such a place be but The Meadow?

Visit Us!

Our shops around the US are waiting for you. Stop by to shop our obsessively curated collection of salts, chocolates, cocktail bitters, fresh cut flowers and pantry goodies.

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