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Articles from 2013 In December


Differentiate your store in 2014

I was driving with my nearly 4-year-old granddaughter a few days ago. We drove by a Walgreen’s store and my granddaughter recognized the building and signage from a previous visit, but didn't remember its name. She asked me what the store was and if that was the one we had visited. As we turned left, on the opposite corner of the intersection was a CVS store. Again, she pointed and asked if that was the Walgreen’s that she and I had been in.  

I chuckled at her equating the stores in her mind-–and then noticed how identical the size and shape of the buildings were, how close the colors and signs were, how similarly they use the space on their lot and orient their buildings. They did look like two of the same chain of stores!

Her observation–-and the surprising similarities between the stores-–provides some good food for thought and maybe a goal or two for 2014.

Is your store unique? Does it have characteristics to make it stand out in shoppers' memories? Do your product offerings and selection, your staff and their knowledge, your friendliness and shopping experience stand out to make your store memorable? Follow these steps to make sure your store isn't just like all the rest.

  • Be sure that you have the basics. Don’t be so focused on being unique that you miss out on the basics. You have to have a broad selection of brands and products including both commodities and unique items. You have to have what is the latest and greatest, but the old reliable products must be there, as well. (A basic-–and one that adds uniqueness-–is a strong private label program. There are many good partners to consider if this is not something that you are doing already.)
  • Look for ways to meet needs that others are not meeting. What section or category of merchandise is under-represented in your market? What can you do to meet that need? Are shoppers in your town not able to find what they need in Tea? Bulk? Pet Products? Household Products? Produce? Children’s products? Non-GMO? Etc. Ask your shoppers what they did not find when they were in your store.
  • Realize that both of those are changing. The basics are made up of previous fads. While it is not "hot" low-carb is still in demand with a segment of your shoppers. A few years ago, however, it was a major driver of traffic and sales. I did not list gluten free above because that category is currently very hot and I would expect to find it in every store. At some point, I expect that this will cool off a bit and it will be one of those basics that you have to have. For now, promote the daylights out of it!

To stay in touch with what product trends are happening, I encourage you to make a resolution in 2014.  Of course, you need to read every issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser and pay attention to the blogs and other content here on newhope360.com. Beyond that, however, make a resolution to attend both Expo West and Expo East. Attend the show put on by your primary distributor. UNFI and KeHE do some great events around the country as do Palko, Nature’s Best and others. Also, attend the regional NPA events in your part of the country. At these shows, be sure to walk the aisles looking for good deals on the basics and to find and learn about what you do not currently stock. Not every new item or concept will work in your store, but some will. Also, make time to be a part of the education at these shows.  There is good product information to be gained, along with good retailing and business information.  Those sessions are worth the time that you invest in them.

May 2014 be an outstanding year for your store. The more that you stand out from the crowd, the more likely that is to happen.

Paleo, chia and kale move (predictably) mainstream

Paleo, chia and kale move (predictably) mainstream

’Tis the season for trend predictions for 2014, and a new diet trend report from Today’s Dietitian, a nutrition trade magazine, confirms that many nutrition trends we’ve seen among core natural consumers are predictably moving mainstream.

For their trend report, Today’s Dietitian and the health and wellness PR agency Pollock Communications surveyed more than 500 registered dietitians (RDs) to find out what consumers are and are not likely to be eating and what diet trends are expected to be embraced in 2014.

At the top of their list is paleo or grain-free eating. More than half of the RD respondents agreed that the paleo diet, gluten-free or “wheat belly” would top the list of most popular diets for 2014. 



What other trends from the natural channel do you think will pop in 2014?

We’ve seen paleo trending within the natural channel for several years, as nutrition-conscious consumers learn about the weight-management and other benefits of eliminating or at least limiting grains and processed sugars from their diets, while eating more organic vegetables and other nutrient-dense whole foods.

Not surprisingly, grain-free eating is following the path forged by gluten free. Now an $8 billion food and beverage category in the United States, gluten free has proven its staying power and ability to influence the way tens of millions of U.S. consumers eat and think about food.

As gluten free has moved mainstream, it’s become increasingly common for consumers to experiment with other special diets, particularly paleo. Paleo, which eschews the consumption of all grains, takes the gluten-free concept to the next level and, in fact, some people start with gluten free and then advance to paleo because it is viewed as healthier.

Connected to the growth in popularity of paleo is increased interest in consuming healthy fats—another trend that showed up in the Today’s Dietician report. The dietitians who participated in that survey predict that the low-fat diet will be the least talked about plan for 2014. Within the natural channel, shoppers have long been moving away from the low-fat movement and embracing healthy fats, particularly fats such as avocado, coconut oil and nuts.

The RD survey also predicts that more consumers will be shopping for ancient grains, coconut, kale and chia—ingredient trends that began bubbling up in the natural channel years ago and are now clearly making a mark on the mainstream consciousness.

 

Here’s the full report from Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian:

NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ —The annual nutrition expert trends forecast is in—what fad diets are hot?  What's out?  Which foods top the list?  What are consumers eating?  According to a survey of more than 500 Registered Dietitians conducted by the nutrition trade magazine, Today's Dietitian, and a leading food, health and wellness public relations agency, Pollock Communications, America's demand for nutrition information is at an all-time high and there's no shortage of outlets talking about diets.  The data shows that with all the attention on health and nutrition, Americans need advice from dietitians now, more than ever, to cut through the clutter. 

Whether right on or nutritionally wrong, dietitians identified 14 diet, nutrition and food trends that will make headlines, influence food-purchasing decisions and shape Americans' waistlines in 2014.  For better or for worse, here's what to watch out for:

  1. Anti-wheat sentiment.  According to our experts, consumers will continue to lean on wheat-deprived diet plans like the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" in 2014.  "Despite the lack of evidence to support wheat- or gluten-elimination diets for weight loss or health – not associated with a clinical disorder or disease – consumers are still looking for ways to control their weight," explains Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, Senior Vice President and Director of Food & Wellness at Pollock Communications. Just over half of the respondents agreed that the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" would top the list of most popular diet fads for 2014. 
  2. Ancient grains are new again.  Despite the popularity of some low grain diets, ancient grains are being served up in 2014. 
  3. Add kale, coconut or chia seeds.  While 32% of dietitians forecast a fondness for ancient grains, 27% say that kale is hot (or served cold) in 2014.  When it comes to ingredients, 37% dietitians report that coconut oil is all the rage, followed by omega-3, ALA-rich chia seeds (32%).   
  4. "Low fat" falls flat.  While low carb remains strong, low fat gets weaker.  Dietitians predict that the low fat diet will be the least talked about plan for 2014.
  5. The nutrition pros promote MyPlate.  Looking for a great educational tool for creating a healthy diet?  Seventy-five percent of dietitians turn to MyPlate to help people eat right.
  6. "Health" is important in the grocery store.  When it comes to shopping for food, 95% of dietitians say that "health" is important to shoppers.  And supermarkets know this more than anyone – the Supermarket Dietitian is the fastest growing job classification in grocery stores nationwide. 
  7. I'm a doctor… and I play one on TV.  Dietitians agree that consumers are exposed to more health information on their flatscreens than ever before. Sixty-six percent of dietitians predict that television doctors will up the diet discussions in 2014, along with more views about food from celebrity trainers and chefs.   
  8. I'm as healthy as my friends.  When it comes to weight and health, consumers are comparing themselves to recommendations from TV personalities and health-focused shows, say 34% of dietitians.  How else do they gauge their health and weight?  They look to their friends and family. 
  9. Bloggers blog about nutrition and health.  Whether it's a lifestyle, mommy or credentialed dietitian blogger, consumers are booting up their devices for diet advice.  Dietitians report that the topic of nutrition and health is booming on blogs and websites.
  10. The (mis)information age.  Dietitians report that most (67%) of nutrition information is based on personal beliefs and half-truths rather than published peer-reviewed research.  And, 75% say that there will be a preponderance of misinformation to digest in 2014. 
  11. More eco-conscious eats.  According to dietitians, consumers are looking for more eco-labels in 2014.  About 38% say that local is where it's at and 31% tell us that their clients look for sustainable foods when shopping. 
  12. Americans become a little too comfortable.  The national averages for body weight have not budged and dietitians worry that Americans may be becoming complacent about their unhealthy weight.  Forty-four percent feel that as we move into 2014, more consumers are becoming OK with an unhealthy weight. 
  13. Fruits and veggies: the biggest bang for the buck.  If consumers made one positive nutrition change, what would that be? It's no surprise: dietitians say that the most important first step to improve overall health is to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables. 
  14. Consumers have an insatiable appetite for nutrition and diet information.  According to 66% of the respondents, consumers' interest in nutrition and weight loss will only grow in 2014.      

"After 15 years working on behalf of dietitians, we know that they truly have their finger on the pulse of all things related to nutrition, so we were happy to join forces with Pollock Communications to ask RDs about what the consumers they work with are thinking," says Today's Dietitian Publisher Mara Honicker. "Dietitians are the real nutrition experts, and with about 70,000 dietetic professionals in the U.S., they have great influence on the everyday eating habits and purchasing decisions of people from all regional and economic environments." 

"We are pleased to ring in the New Year with this nutrition news forecast," remarks Louise Pollock, founder and President of Pollock Communications. "When it comes to food and nutrition, Registered Dietitians are the go-to resource for consumers, brands and the media, so it's important to listen to their predictions."  

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Rethinking brain health

The big “C.” For decades, cancer was the health condition people most feared. And while cancer remains loathed all over the world, a new C—cognitive health—has overtaken cancer in the minds of Americans. Whether it’s the inevitable decline that comes with an aging population that continues to push the limits of longevity, or abject Alzheimer’s disease seen in a parent or grandparent that seemingly completely destroys a person’s memory, a need to improve sleep or stress (it’s all in the head!), or even just a desire to keep an agile mind around the office, cognitive health is hot.

In surveys conducted by AARP and ASA-MetLife Foundation, nearly 9 out of 10 consumers believe it’s possible to improve cognitive fitness, and more than 4 out of 5 people older than 50 say “staying mentally sharp” is their No. 1 concern. A deteriorating mental state concerns baby boomers more than death itself. Take that, Grim Reaper.

Except that deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, while deaths from other major diseases— breast and prostate cancer, heart disease and stroke, and HIV—decreased.

Despite consumer demand, though, brain supplements remain underdeveloped compared with other supplement categories. The heart-health supplement category is four times the size of the brain health category, and joint health is more than three times the size, according to the Natural Marketing Institute.

That market potential gap spells opportunity for supplement companies seeking to fill the void and for retailers looking to capitalize on this trend. (Check out our gallery of top supplement picks for brain health.)

Nutrition Business Journal reported that brain health “will do for the supplement industry what heart health did 10 years ago. But brains are more than smarts—mood, stress, sleep and outlook tumble around in there as well.”

The good news: Nutrition science around ingredients for cognitive health has started to catch up to market demand. In the last year alone, a suite of ingredients that target various aspects of brain health has begun to hit the market.

  • The botanical Sceletium tortuosum has only a few human clinical trials, but they show an ability to make healthy people happier. Bonus: the sole supplier received the first certification from the South African government vouchsafing sustainable harvesting methods from the indigenous San tribe.
  • Magnesium threonate is a new salt with provocative animal studies (human clinical under way as we speak) that show improvement in memory, recognition and learning. Magtein is the brand name, and it is starting to show up on supplement bottles.
  • Pyrroloquinoline quinone, known as PQQ, has a rich suite of recently published research behind it. PQQ is fairly unique in a couple of interesting ways: It creates mitochondria—these are the power plants inside each cell—and enhances nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain. In essence, when brain cells and neurons fail, PQQ builds pathways to keep the cognitive electricity flowing efficiently.
  • Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) has, like PQQ, also been shown to increase NGF, which makes it unique among medicinal mushrooms. In a recent study of 30 Japanese women, it helped with anxiety and irritation and improved concentration. It also maintains its mushroom bona fides—basic immunity, as well as effects on blood sugar and cholesterol.
  • The much-validated botanical Bacopa monnieri, an important Ayurvedic herb, has been the subject of a few 2013 studies showing it can improve and speed cognition.
  • Choline, close to being a bona fide B vitamin, converts to the nerve transmitter acetylcholine as well as the healthy fats phosphatidylcholine (PC) and alpha-glycerophosphocholine (GPC). In so doing, it enhances brain metabolism, and has specifically been shown to sharpen attention, memory, learning and mood.
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the best omega-3 fatty acid related to brain health as it makes up the largest percentage of fats that comprise the brain. It was the subject of six human clinical trials in 2013 related to cognition. One showed improved memory and increased reaction time of memory, especially among young adults whose diets were low in DHA. Another showed improved memory in older people with mild cognitive impairment when taking 1.3 g/day DHA and 450 mg/day EPA. Another, however, on rural African infants, showed 200 mg DHA and 300 mg EPA had no effect on selected measures of cognitive development.

Longevity science is pushing human lifespans toward 120 years of age. Most Americans say they don’t want that many years added to their lives, only more life to their years (as the saying goes). But that’s because of the fear of having their bodies—and, worse, their brains—break down. Compelling research—and product offerings—to address various aspects of cognitive health may well change that consumer perception, and help all of us age as gracefully as we can now only dream.

Should I hire a branding agency?

Do you know your new all-natural Greek yogurts inside and out? Have you made sure the market is ripe for your product introduction? Great! You need these aspects nailed down before you can even think about marketing your product. But even if you’re a Greek yogurt guru, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know marketing. Jeff Hilton, chief marketing officer at BrandHive, shares some surprising ways that branding agencies can help. 

The new rules of natural product marketing

Marketing natural and organic products has changed tremendously in the past decade, due in large part to the world going digital. No shocker there. But what does this mean for your startup business? Can you skip traditional marketing avenues and just launch a guerilla Facebook campaign? Nope, says Jeff Hilton, chief marketing officer at BrandHive. He shares expert advice on how to successfully market your products in today’s tablet- and smartphone-addicted world.

What your manufacturing contract must include

Partnering with a contract manufacturer is a big deal, with the potential to make or break your new natural food or beverage. To make sure both companies are singing the same tune, you have to nail out many, many particulars in the almighty contract. Craig Lieberman, founder of 34 Degrees, shares his top tips for coming to the table ready and not leaving out any crucial contact components.

Expo through the eyes of a marketer: Jora

How much does it cost to build great packaging design? If you hire an agency, it may cost a lot—but you'll get the depth, breadth, personality and verve to make your creative pop. If you go it alone, or slip a starving D-school student a hundred bucks, you may land a cheap, cool logo—but little else.

New York-based superfood muesli brand Jora went the latter direction and pulled it off. Watch here as Adam and Marty Butler of The Butler Bros branding agency unearth the tips and tricks Jora's founder used in order to turn a shoestring budget into agency-quality branding.

Want to learn more about how you can make a standout brand? Check out the NEXT Natural Products Industry Accelerator, a new online platform that gives entrepreneurial brands searchable access to the education, tools, service providers and networking contacts they need to launch and grow their natural products businesses.

14 top diet trends for 2014

14 top diet trends for 2014

The annual nutrition expert trends forecast is in. What fad diets are hot? What's out? Which foods top the list? What are consumers eating? According to a survey of more than 500 registered dietitians conducted by the nutrition trade magazine, Today's Dietitian, and a leading food, health and wellness public relations agency, Pollock Communications, America's demand for nutrition information is at an all-time high and there's no shortage of outlets talking about diets. The data shows that with all the attention on health and nutrition, Americans need advice from dietitians now, more than ever, to cut through the clutter. 

Read New Hope's take on this trend report and share your own predictions for 2014.

Whether right on or nutritionally wrong, dietitians identified 14 diet, nutrition and food trends that will make headlines, influence food-purchasing decisions and shape Americans' waistlines in 2014. For better or for worse, here's what to watch out for:

1.       Anti-wheat sentiment. According to our experts, consumers will continue to lean on wheat-deprived diet plans like the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" in 2014. "Despite the lack of evidence to support wheat- or gluten-elimination diets for weight loss or health—not associated with a clinical disorder or disease—consumers are still looking for ways to control their weight," explains Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, senior vice president and director of food and wellness at Pollock Communications. Just over half of the respondents agreed that the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" would top the list of most popular diet fads for 2014. 

2.       Ancient grains are new again. Despite the popularity of some low grain diets, ancient grains are being served up in 2014. 

3.       Add kale, coconut or chia seeds. While 32 percent of dietitians forecast a fondness for ancient grains, 27 percent say that kale is hot (or served cold) in 2014. When it comes to ingredients, 37 percent dietitians report that coconut oil is all the rage, followed by omega-3, ALA-rich chia seeds (32 percent).  

4.       "Low fat" falls flat. While low carb remains strong, low fat gets weaker. Dietitians predict that the low fat diet will be the least talked about plan for 2014.

5.       The nutrition pros promote MyPlate. Looking for a great educational tool for creating a healthy diet? Seventy-five percent of dietitians turn to MyPlate to help people eat right.

6.       "Health" is important in the grocery store. When it comes to shopping for food, 95 percent of dietitians say that "health" is important to shoppers. And supermarkets know this more than anyone – the Supermarket Dietitian is the fastest growing job classification in grocery stores nationwide. 

7.       I'm a doctor… and I play one on TV. Dietitians agree that consumers are exposed to more health information on their flatscreens than ever before. Sixty-six percent of dietitians predict that television doctors will up the diet discussions in 2014, along with more views about food from celebrity trainers and chefs.  

8.       I'm as healthy as my friends. When it comes to weight and health, consumers are comparing themselves to recommendations from TV personalities and health-focused shows, say 34 percent of dietitians. How else do they gauge their health and weight? They look to their friends and family. 

9.       Bloggers blog about nutrition and health. Whether it's a lifestyle, mommy or credentialed dietitian blogger, consumers are booting up their devices for diet advice. Dietitians report that the topic of nutrition and health is booming on blogs and websites.

10.   The (mis)information age. Dietitians report that most (67 percent) of nutrition information is based on personal beliefs and half-truths rather than published peer-reviewed research. And, 75 percent say that there will be a preponderance of misinformation to digest in 2014. 

11.   More eco-conscious eats. According to dietitians, consumers are looking for more eco-labels in 2014. About 38 percent say that local is where it's at and 31 percent tell us that their clients look for sustainable foods when shopping. 

12.   Americans become a little too comfortable. The national averages for body weight have not budged and dietitians worry that Americans may be becoming complacent about their unhealthy weight. Forty-four percent feel that as we move into 2014, more consumers are becoming OK with an unhealthy weight. 

13.   Fruits and veggies: the biggest bang for the buck. If consumers made one positive nutrition change, what would that be? It's no surprise: dietitians say that the most important first step to improve overall health is to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables. 

14.   Consumers have an insatiable appetite for nutrition and diet information. According to 66 percent of the respondents, consumers' interest in nutrition and weight loss will only grow in 2014.  

"After 15 years working on behalf of dietitians, we know that they truly have their finger on the pulse of all things related to nutrition, so we were happy to join forces with Pollock Communications to ask RDs about what the consumers they work with are thinking," says Today's Dietitian Publisher Mara Honicker. "Dietitians are the real nutrition experts, and with about 70,000 dietetic professionals in the U.S., they have great influence on the everyday eating habits and purchasing decisions of people from all regional and economic environments." 

"We are pleased to ring in the New Year with this nutrition news forecast," remarks Louise Pollock, founder and president of Pollock Communications. "When it comes to food and nutrition, Registered Dietitians are the go-to resource for consumers, brands and the media, so it's important to listen to their predictions."  

 

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Training for life

Healthy Living Market works with employees with developmental disabilities

At most grocery stores the employee-store relationship is pretty simple, right? Whether they’re loading shoppers’ bags or stocking produce, the employees do the job, get their paycheck and head home. But the partnership between a nonprofit and a natural grocery store in Burlington, Vt., is taking that model to a new level.

Fifteen years ago, Healthy Living Market began working with Project Hire, a local nonprofit that provides supported employment services to individuals with autism or developmental disabilities. The store hires and trains a handful of individuals nominated by Project Hire while the nonprofit provides the extra support its clients might need. The nonprofit works with more than 100 businesses whose support is crucial in promoting the long-term success of the nonprofit’s clients, says Karen Hussey, senior manager. For Healthy Living, the arrangement provides an opportunity to reach out and be more involved in the community, says Leo Zambrano, the store’s grocery manager.

Here, Zambrano answers a few questions about how the program works at Healthy Living and how other natural retailers can implement a similar program.

How do you work with Project Hire?

Leo Zambrano: The organization usually presents an employee to us and then it provides ongoing support depending on the needs of the employee. It can be anything from regular check-ins or, with people who have more immediate needs, the nonprofit will bring in a job coach to work alongside them.

How many Healthy Living employees are from Project Hire? 

LZ: It’s a small percentage. We have 150 employees and maybe five to 10 of them at any given time are from Project Hire.

What kind of jobs do Project Hire employees do and what is the payment structure like?

LZ: For the most part they have been in our cafe and grocery departments. In the cafe we have them working on the packing line and the cooking line and in the grocery department we have them doing stocking. They get the same hourly pay as other employees.

What benefit has it brought to the store?

LZ: It goes hand in hand with what we always do with our customer service, which is we try to treat everyone like family. When [a Project Hire employee] joins our team, he or she joins our family. When we work with guests in our store, they feel that.

Is there anything in particular your business has learned in the process?

LZ: [Project Hire employees] have taught us about what we can do better for service. In retail, because of the fast pace we work at, we sometimes forget to slow down and stop and help out. Having somebody through Project Hire on the team reminds us to slow down and to really work with [those employees].

How would you advise retailers who want to try something similar?

LZ: With any new project, it’s best to start slow. I think we did it step by step, starting with one person then adding another one and another one. It’s also best to find a nonprofit or company that’s willing to join with you and help you. A Project Hire employee is with a team member from the first time he or she is here and constantly provides support.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Wendy Meyerson beyond grocery

As a natural retailer Wendy Meyerson goes beyond grocery

In the ’70s, Stan Meyerson opened his own pharmacy practice in Syracuse, N.Y., where he happily doled out what he thought were the best medicines to address any health concern. Then, in the early 1980s, Meyerson was diagnosed with colon cancer.

He changed his diet, began researching supplements and added natural options to his pharmacy, even though integrative medicine was relatively unheard of in his community. Meyerson beat the disease and then did something drastic: He closed his pharmacy and purchased Natur-Tyme, a natural store nearby.

At Natur-Tyme, Meyerson used his background in medicine and passion for natural remedies to counsel customers on then-little-known ailments such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. In 1986, he opened NEEDS, a mail-order supplement business specifically for chemically sensitive shoppers. Meyerson passed away in 2012, but his mission lives on through his daughter, Wendy, who now helms Natur-Tyme. Under her leadership, the store doubled its size last year and continues to explore new, innovative ways to serve today’s natural shoppers.

Tell us about your supplements dispensary. Was it born from the NEEDS business?

Wendy Meyerson: That actually grew out of a relationship with one of our vendors. It’s a direct-fulfillment program for physicians who want to recommend supplements to their patients but don’t want to carry that inventory. After a doctor suggests a product, the client goes onto a password-protected website to order. We offer about 30 brands now, and products are mailed directly to patients. This program allows physicians to make supplement purchasing easy and one-stop for their patients. It’s been a very successful arm of our business. 

What are the other arms?

WM: I’m very much into natural beauty and have tried every product on the market. When I first got involved with Natur-Tyme, I thought I wouldn’t be able to use natural beauty products because they wouldn’t work. How wrong I was. They’re just as good or better. I started ordering mineral makeup before anyone had really heard of it, and I hired cosmetologists and aestheticians to counsel people on everything from acne to rosacea. Now we have a full-service in-store salon, Enhanced Beauty Salon, where we do massages, facials, haircuts and hair colors. Every product we use in the salon, except for the professional hair color, can be purchased in our store.

Most people understand how food and supplements impact their health, but I believe the final frontier is realizing that what you put on your body also has impact. We have cancer survivors and people with compromised immune systems who can’t tolerate most salons but do very well with us.  

How is the salon going after about a year in operation?

WM: It’s been a blessing, no question, but we’re still finding our footing. I have an experienced salon manager, but it’s a different customer and a different mentality. We’re learning and making our way. People know Natur-Tyme, but that doesn’t mean they know Enhanced Beauty Salon, so it’s like building another new business. But customers trust us because it’s inside our store.

You also opened a café around the same time, right?

WM: Yes, we wanted to enhance our customers’ shopping experience. We started with juices, smoothies and gelato. Everything is gluten free and as local and organic as possible. In the fall, we began offering chili and soups, and we recently added grab-and-go salads. We want this to be a place to take a break and refuel. 

Are the new businesses successful?

WM: When we first started thinking about expanding, money was grand, business was good. But then the economy started having issues. We expanded in 2012, right before the election. It was a tough time, but I really felt things would turn a corner and we’d be poised to rock it. Unfortunately, we are still where we are in the economy. It’s definitely been a challenge, but what’s kept us going is how appreciative our customers have been. We have a community room that holds 75 people for workshops. Our annual health fair attracts 2,000 people. The love flows from our customer base right back to our store. It’s hard to put a price on that.  

 

Three Tips to expand your business 

Connect and believe. Ask yourself what else you could provide to give the community more reason to connect with your store. Natur-Tyme’s motto: If it’s right for the customer, if it’s right for the community, then it’s right for us. Any expansion takes work, so you must be passionate about and confident in what you’re doing and why.   

Let go. It’s natural to want to maintain control of every aspect of your business, from serving shoppers to researching new products. But with an expansion—especially into an entirely new business—you must let go to some degree or you’ll be limited in what you can accomplish, Meyerson says. Bring the right people on board and have faith in them. You’ll be amazed at what gets done.   

Remember, tech is your friend. Technology can streamline processes that you never imagined needed fixing. Meyerson expanded her business and updated her POS system at the same time. “It was a hell of year, but we’re finally coming out the other side,” she says. “Now my buyers are walking around with their iPhones scanning products to UNFI. If you’d told me that a year ago, I’d have said you were nuts.”