Day two of educational events at SOHO Expo in Kissimmee, Fla. brought tons of new information for retailers on how to better manage business and what's new in naturals and supplements. Managing editor Pamela Bond and I attended most of the events and were surprised with what retailers were asking and what was important to them currently. (We want to hear more from you! Please leave comments below on what you'd like to see out of the magazine and website so we can make it better for you, the retailer.)
My favorite session of the day was the "Finding our blind spots" panel which featured three independent retailers and their actions in a mass market and big box world. Aaron Gottlieb of Native Sun Natural Foods, Jeff Wittman, a member of the Dietetic and Nutrition Practice Council and independent retailer and Frances Drennen of Manna Grocery discussed who independent retailers are, what makes them unique, and how they survive in a growing world.
The biggest take away (for me) came in a top three. I may be preaching to the choir (as Drennen said earlier) but to me the top three things that separates an indepedent retailer from a mass store or a chain store are customer service, knowledge and passion. Each retailer on the panel had a different story but it all came down to really wanting to help the customer because they believed in the products which helps them get an important message across well.
Again, this makes me feel like there is something different about natural products retailers that can't be sold. They care, and that means the world to customers like me.
Stay tuned tomorrow for postings on show floor happenings, it'll be good.