Greetings from Minnesota! I just wrapped up a mini retail tour de force, stopping by three natural products outlets—two decades-old co-ops in the suburbs and one 2-year-old online retailer in downtown Minneapolis. Lakewinds Natural Foods in Minnetonka, Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville and Abe’s Market Natural Goods were all gracious enough to walk me through their stores/offices, give me a glimpse of day-to-day operations and discuss in detail their challenges and successes.
Sure, I could’ve exchanged emails with these stores’ managers or interviewed them over the phone, but nothing proves quite as valuable as actually visiting stores to get a true sense of what’s happening in their worlds. We then use what we see, hear and learn to inspire story ideas, education sessions at Natural Products Expo East and West, and other possible ways that Natural Foods Merchandiser and New Hope Natural Media can help retailers succeed.
We’ll also use this info to inspire our upcoming relaunch. As you may have heard, Natural Foods Merchandiser is putting on a fresh face starting with the January 2012 issue. As a 31-year-old publication, it’s important to always keep a pulse on our retailer readers—what’s important to them, what type of information they crave, what challenges and successes they face day-to-day—and be ready to adapt and evolve to best serve their needs.
One thing we realized is that we needed to put the people back into NFM, meaning we want to do a better job of showcasing the hardworking, passionate, oftentimes unique individuals who make the natural products retail scene rock. We want to tell their stories and help spread their messages in hopes of inspiring other retailers and strengthening this community’s already tight bonds.
So, in the next few months, we’re getting out there and visiting as many retailers as possible. We are a small squad, so unfortunately we can’t cover as much turf as we’d like—but we’re making a bold effort, because, as I said, interfacing with retailers yields so much value.
Another way we’re reaching out to retailers and attempting to ramp up their presence in the print magazine is with our Retailer Photo Shoot, one week from today at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. On Friday, Sept. 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center’s press room, a professional portrait photographer will be snapping shots of retailers—that’s you!—for use in upcoming issues of NFM.
We invite all retailers attending Expo to swing by. In addition to capturing photos, we want to use that time to talk with retailers about their work and their needs—to do a little bit of what I just did in Minnesota—to see how we can be of best service. Don’t be shy! Be sure to come see me at Expo East.