Natural Foods Merchandiser

Retailer Roundtable: What surprised you about '09?

Diane Addison, owner of Health Essentials in Westlake Village, Calif.
“Our organic and whole-grains sales did very well in 2009. Vegan products were also a strong trend, and quinoa was a big hit. In our personal care section, the Desert Essence brand did very well.”
 

Mickey Banks, owner of Health Nuts in Gulfport, Miss.
“Even though people are cutting back in their overall spending, they are still frequenting health food stores. I think they feel so much better [when they eat natural foods]. Whether it’s supplements or Ezekiel bread, it makes such a difference in their life.”
 

Susan Crenshaw, owner of HealtHabit Natural Foods in Goldsboro, N.C.
“In our store, I was surprised everything was so strong—we did great. In the beginning of the year there was some trouble, but we didn’t miss a beat. We found our customers were trying to shop local and support our independent store. We saw new people coming in looking for items they needed, especially for gluten-free products.”

Greg Henkel, owner of Rhubarb’s Market in Lancaster, Pa.
“Kombucha sales did really well for us, actually, doubling 2008’s numbers. We were able to expand that line. Organic produce also held strong as well as nutritional supplements and gluten-free products. People were getting back to basics, so our bulk food sales were also up.”


 

Craig StClair, president of Aloha Nutrition in Layton, Utah
“I was surprised by the number of new customers we got. I figured we would see fewer new customers in 2009 than 2008. Instead, it was the first year in a while that there were some products bringing people in. Açai was probably the biggest draw to bring people through the door. Arginine and nitric oxide-boosting products did well too. Coconut oil started getting big in late 2008, but got really big and carried strong throughout 2009.”

Lois Hebert, owner of Great Earth Vitamins in Torrance, Calif.
“Açai became so popular. It ended up being the hot product of 2009.”





 

Carter Allen, owner of Celestial Natural Foods in Haleiwa, Hawaii
“We did very well overall and had a really good year. It was an exciting time here on the North Shore of Oahu. There was lots of good surf and more people coming around to eat organic food.”

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