Family business is the heart and soul of natural products retailing. Sure, it seems everyone shines the spotlight on Whole Foods Market, but it’s family of grandmothers and grandfathers, and mothers and fathers who led the way, inspiring next generations to live healthier. They are the true inspiration for the values we as an industry hold today, for the passion that imbues brands large and small and retail outlets in communities of all sizes.
Early natural products retailers scraped the resources together and mightily took brave first steps to build an industry that today has gained mainstream acclaim that some fear will write the final chapter for independent natural retail. In this month’s edition, we visit with some families transitioning their businesses to the next generation to learn how they manage family and business. What I see in their stories is a bright future. Family business matters to America and more important to our industry as a harbinger of the industry’s health, as a bond for community and the greater industry, and as historic knowledge keepers and teachers.
Healthy reflection. So many turn to the stock market ticker as the pulse of business. But look to the independent businesses in a community to see the real health of a region. Look to the family retailers that comprise the natural products industry: Their well-being best reflects that of our industry—one built on diverse products grown and manufactured by transparent and passionate people regionally, nationally and even internationally.
Business bonds. The bonds built in a natural retailer’s community are immense as so many stores serve not just as purveyors of goods but places of connection, with people, products and education. They build community within their stores and outside their walls to better their cities and build health networks with providers of all sorts.
Solid roots. When you really think about it, the roots of our industry are fed by family businesses across the nation and flourish with those who inspire great visions for the future. Many second-generation owners helm stores today. They and those who are transitioning face a very different time, a time in which the vision of our forebears is coming to fruition as health practitioners, growing brands and retailers of all sizes bring health to the masses. The way the masses are connecting, though (in the aisles of conventional and mass market retailers), means even more change for longstanding independent natural retailers.
Listening to our next-generation owners—and engaging the next-generation staff managing, buying and selling natural products today will guide the way with confidence of knowledge gained from generations before and creativity of those leading to the future.