Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

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Health food store tours

Health food store tours

Take every opportunity to visit other health food stores.  Getting out into the marketplace to see what’s happening can really motivate you to adopt changes in your store.


Take every opportunity to visit other health food stores.  Getting out into the marketplace to see what’s happening can really motivate you to adopt changes in your store.

Every opportunity our management team has, we go visit other health food stores.  We always come back with at least one idea.  If you think of your business, you are constantly brainstorming, requesting feedback and generating ideas.  But often, when it comes to store design, layout and “feel,” we do it once when it’s built, and never look again. There is a real benefit to getting out into the marketplace to see what’s happening and it can really motivate you to adopt changes in your store.

   We ask our marketing department to bring in ads (from any industry) before each marketing meeting and show their favourite, their least favourite and explain why. This type of brainstorming gets ideas flowing.  It may not be a product in our industry but marketing is marketing and we can learn from everyone.  The same is said of store design and flow. Unless you’re out in other stores, it’s difficult to assess your design and create a new one without seeing live models in action (magazines can only provide you with so much information).

   I use every opportunity to get out and see stores – CHFA shows, business travel or perhaps you find yourself in another city for your child’s sporting event – go see the local health food store!  If you know someone in the area, ask them who is the destination store for health food or if there is a really cool store in another industry you should be going to see. Talk to industry folk (like CNHR or your vendors who visit many stores) to ask which ones are the best in the city you’re going to.

   Once you’ve arrived at the store, it’s always good to introduce yourself.  Hopefully, you’ll be allowed to take photos (in small format stores, this can happen, less likely in a big box store).  If you don’t have permission, be wary of taking photos – you could find yourself on the sidewalk pretty fast. Walk up and down the aisles and look for different products you haven’t seen before (What?! Gluten-free angel food cake is available!?), lighting (there are always new advancements in this area and it can really make a difference in a store), types of shelving used, signage, flooring and paint colours.  The list is never-ending. You could be really surprised with the ideas you take away.

   I am fortunate to know many store owners through our industry network and have had many tours by owners.  You’ll find this gives you a completely different viewpoint.  Getting to see the “behind-the-scenes” action in the backroom or warehouse or seeing the operations in the back office can give you many insights and ideas as well. A guided tour will also enable you to ask questions like, “What type of equipment is this?” and “Who do you buy this from?”  Odds are if your store operates in another city, they are likely to answer your questions since you’re not competition.

   I recently had the opportunity to visit a great store in Nanaimo – Island Naturals.  One of the partners, Casey Mitchell, toured me through the store and her town.  What a wonderful gift! I took away ideas for lighting, endcap fixtures, produce merchandising, new products we need to list and floor maintenance tips (beautiful floors in Nanaimo).  In addition, it validated our store layout – we struggle with smaller backrooms, leaving as much possible space for retail.       By seeing their backroom operations and space they work with, I know it can be done.  I was allowed to take photos and snapped pictures of ideas so I wouldn’t forget, like the built-in iPad stand at the supplement desk or the great fixtures in the beauty department.  I share these photos with all our staff so they can see what others are doing so well and they often incorporate the display ideas into their stores.

   You may end up incorporating some ideas you’ve seen into your store which definitely makes it worth the trip. Alternatively, you may be assured that you are doing great things compared to some other stores or that you’ve got some work to do to get on par.  You’ll never know unless you get out there and store tour!  •


CNHR News Podcast

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News, Views and Happenings in the world of Canadian Natural Health.

Check out this month's podcast here

Your customers have spoken.  The numbers are convincing: Canada’s natural health retailers turn to CNHR for your new products.  A survey conducted in June 2020 shows retailers read the ads and Product Profiles, and react to them.  They order products they’ve seen in CNHR.  They look for your new products in CNHR.  Reach your customers via CNHR by print, video and/or podcast.  Various opportunities available to fit any budget. 

• Launch your new products

• Support your sales team

• Be visible as stores re-focus and re-charge

• Stake your position in the “new normal”

• Reach more stores – from coast to coast

• Introduce your company to new potential customers • Combine CNHR’s print, video and podcast options


New!  Product profile package

Retailers want to see more of your new products.  So, we’re making it easier for you and them. 

Introducing our new Product Profile Package:  a three-pronged way to reach retailers by combining print, video and podcast.  You get all three!

PRINT:  Claim a spot on CNHR’s Product Profile pages, mailed to health food stores coast to coast, and read by over 10,000 retail store buyers, owners, managers and staff.

VIDEO:  This is new for CNHR – video product reviews.  You’ll get a 30 second review of your product with product image and voiceover.  Five products per video, then e-blasted to CNHR’s database, to be shared among staff and with the store’s customers.   

PODCAST:  Also a new feature.  Your product will get a mention on the New Products portion of the popular CNHR News Podcast, hosted by CNHR editor Bruce Cole and Deane Parkes.   Your company name, product name, a couple of lines, followed with your company contact information.

Three-platform exposure for your new products, delivered by CNHR, the trusted source of industry information retailers have counted on for 24 years.   Three platforms for $699.00

The Product Profile Package is FREE to all full or half page advertisers!

For more information please contact:

Phone: 800.663.6580