For all of us at New Hope Network, Debra Stark embodied natural retail. Her love for her customers, staff and industry colleagues, and her unwavering commitment to her community were matched with a wry sense of humor and a steady optimism that made us feel that, with some good food and good conversation, everything was going to be OK.
It was Debra whom we’d go to for insights about the future of natural retail and wisdom regarding its past. And it was Debra whom we couldn’t wait to see at Natural Products Expo East 2021 after in-person events took a two-year hiatus. She brought great solace when we needed it most. "There’s nothing like being at Natural Products Expo East or West and being able to catch up with old friends," Stark shared with us in advance of that show. "Friends in the industry, New Hope Network friends, fellow retailers that we’ve gotten to know over the years and whom we count on."
During her more than 30 years in the industry, Debra had many accomplishments: building up her beloved natural products store in Concord, Massachusetts; writing her book, "The Little Shop That Could: A Retailer’s Love Affair with Community and Food;" being named a Legend in New Hope Network’s Hall of Legends Awards; and, of course, being a proud and loving sister, daughter, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and friend.
Her passion for the natural products industry and for the people in it, will be passed on to future generations and will continue to drive our collective work to support the health of people and planet. "When I go to the shows, I have great fun bringing staff who have never been before. I love seeing how jazzed they become, and I go home like a proud mama."
She will be missed.
Please enjoy some of our favorite stories about Debra Stark: