Our Consultants

James Morrell



South Burlington, Vermont


(802) 355-1451


Produce Merchandising Consultant

Profile Video

  • Profile Overview

  • Articles from CDS Consulting publications

  • Articles in Cooperative Grocer

  • Other works by James Morrell

Profile Overview arrow

  • Profile Overview arrow
  • Profile Overview
  • Articles from CDS Consulting publications
  • Articles in Cooperative Grocer or other publications
  • Other works by James Morrell

James Morrell has over 25 years of experience in natural foods retail and operations management specializing in fresh category management.

For the past decade he has been produce manager at City Market Onion River Co-op in Burlington, Vt.  Throughout his career James has advocated a dynamic approach to merchandising, sales and customer service, by cultivating partnerships with regional vendors and farmers, and establishing mutually beneficial customer relationships for increased community food access and local distribution.  James is a popular presenter, sharing his expertise at numerous industry conferences, including Northeast Organic Farming Association, Expo East, and the University of Vermont Farmer Training.

“I want to remove the boundaries between people and their food through engaging merchandising,” James said.  Art and music-making have also played a part in his approach to teaching visual display and retail operations management. “There’s a connection with food, merchandizing and art,” he said.  “Sometimes I think retailers can be too conservative, and it’s important to be bold in merchandising.”

James also said that mastery of retail systems fundamentals is equally important.  Produce is a high-labor department, and effective systems to manage labor, pricing, shrink, merchandising and sourcing are critical to surviving competition.  “You need to make sure your bottom line is sound,” he said.  Customer service also needs to be a priority, especially in produce departments where a customer’s first interaction often takes place.  “Everything goes through the customer service experience.  In the produce department there are conversations about food and where it comes from every day.”  He thinks co-ops have an important opportunity to nurture deeper connections through food in their communities.  James's approach is to give clients the tools they need to foster that link by strengthening their visual identity, enhancing retail systems and being high-functioning department performers.

James's services include:

  • On site and phone consultations
  • Systems development for single and multi-store formats
  • Produce Department Systems Assessment
  • Merchandising Support: assessment, layout, design, and training
  • Retail Sales Strategies
  • Local Food Systems Development, Produce Sourcing, and Procurement Strategies
  • Key Financial Indicator Improvement
  • Produce Department Staffing:  Customer Service Training, Team Building and Personnel Management

“ As a produce vendor, I can honestly say that James has the best managed produce department I have worked with. ”

S'ra DeSantis, M.S., UVM Farmer Training Program Co-Director/Instructor

“ Many moments spent in the produce department with James have yielded not only new handling and merchandising concepts but also a refreshing outlook on the importance of the work being done. ”

Michelle Langmaid, Organic Produce Specialist

“ James Morrell knows produce. If you have questions about creating vibrant produce displays, or managing employee and vendor relationships, or maintaining a profitable department, or starting a "buy local" campaign, James has a wealth of knowledge to share. ”

Danielle Thurston