Natural Foods Merchandiser

Expo West Retail Store Tour

On Thursday, March 11, Expo attendees will have the opportunity to tour four stores in the Southern California area, representing a wide spectrum of approaches to natural retailing.

Cooperative opportunity
1525 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Co-opportunity is the only grocery co-op in the Santa Monica area and has more than 10,000 active members. In business for more than 35 years, the store focuses on grocery and supplements and also has a deli.

“We’re a relatively small store,” says Mia Lauchli, the co-op’s marketing director, “but we really focus on working with local producers to bring in unique items other stores don’t carry. We have four Whole Foods [stores] within five miles of our location, so customer loyalty is really important to us.”

Tradition in homeopathy
Santa Monica Homeopathic Pharmacy
629 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Just around the corner is Santa Monica Homeopathic Pharmacy, which has been operating since 1944, says Bob Litvak, co-owner and son of the original owners. The store started selling homeopathic remedies shortly after opening, and later phased out unhealthy addictives like alcohol, tobacco and narcotic drugs, instead referring customers to doctors who practice natural medicine.

“What makes us unique is that you can walk into the store and talk to a nutritionist, a naturopath, a homeopath or a Chinese herbalist,” Litvak says. “That’s why we’re in business after 65 years, when all the other pharmacies in Santa Monica are long gone.”

Rainbow Acres is the place to be
Rainbow Acres
13208 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Rainbow Acres Natural Foods, another Los Angeles institution, is best described as “a full-service neighborhood-style market,” says long-time employee and store manager Doug Frank. Although the original store has been in the same location since 1982, it’s expanded four times by annexing neighboring businesses. With nutritional consultants on staff and a commitment to one-on-one customer service, the store serves as an educational resource for its community.

Just like Mom’s
Mother’s Market and Kitchen
151 East Memory Lane
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Finally, tour participants will visit Mother’s Market and Kitchen in Santa Ana, one of six locations in Orange County. “Our first store opened in 1978 and was approximately 2,000 square feet,” says cofounder Sharon Macgurn. “You can see how the industry has grown since then, and we’ve grown with it.” Now the local chain’s biggest store is 25,000 square feet, with a fresh juice bar and deli. Other locations also feature sit-down restaurants.

“We stock more than 30,000 products, and fill needs not easily met in [conventional grocery] stores, including vegan and vegetarian foods, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and salt free,” Macgurn says.

Mitchell Clute is a Fort Collins, Colo.- based freelance writer.

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