Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

4 minutes reading time (801 words)

Le Panier Vert

panier_vert_health_storeA time for change

In times of change, life can be both challenging and rewarding. And no one can attest to this more than the customers, staff and new owners of Le Panier Vert in Chateauguay, QC.

After store owner Leo Bik sadly passed away in April of 2008, Larry Ridge – who was a long-serving employee – stepped in to take ownership of Le Panier Vert.

In times of change, life can be both challenging and rewarding. And no one can attest to this more than the customers, staff and new owners of Le Panier Vert in Chateauguay, QC.

After store owner Leo Bik sadly passed away in April of 2008, Larry Ridge – who was a long-serving employee – stepped in to take ownership of Le Panier Vert.

Larry had been working for Leo for some time, so the change-over was fairly seamless. "The transition was pretty smooth as I was already dealing with reps concerning dry goods," offered Larry. "The computer system was set with maximums so the ordering of supplements was not that difficult. The problem was two months later when the company's fiscal year ended. But with help from the accountant and our computer advisor, I weathered the storm."

While the basic operations remained the same, Larry did make some initial small changes. He re-arranged the supplement section and brought his wife Dianne in to join the team.

But the next – and much more challenging – order of business was to find a new location. Having had to deal with road construction in front of the store for some time now, Larry knew he had to do something. At one point, there was a 35 foot hole right in front of the store for a period of three months. In addition, the balance of the roadwork took another six months, because the front of the store was the main junction for all the water/main connections.

"This roadwork caused our sales numbers to drop drastically," says Larry. "We knew a move was evident, but prime space was difficult to find and there was still two years remaining on our existing lease. But with clients falling like flies, a new location became a must even if two rents had to be paid. Short term pain for long term gain."

And Larry knew exactly what he was looking for. First and foremost was parking and accessibility. "Location, location, location. We did not want clients to make a detour to come to Panier Vert. We wanted it to be on their route."

And he found it. Located in a newer part of Chateauguay, the chosen 2,120 square foot space was much brighter with south-facing windows, three dedicated parking places directly in front of the store and an additional 35 common spots. The new store is also surrounded by a number of health tenants – a dentist, weight watchers and a doctor - making it somewhat of a health centre, says Larry.

The new space, previously a physiotherapy office, consists of many individual rooms leading from the large main space. Larry turned each little room into a department, including a tea room, personal care room, asiatic room, treatment room and a dry goods area. Larry and Dianne's daughter Kelly-Ann takes up residence in one of the rooms as a reiki master and also does Breuss massage and Method Dorn treatments (alignment of the body). Biane Leblanc also helps out in the store part-time, two days a week.

And this new layout has been a hit with customers. In fact, customers who have not been to the store in over a year have returned and some of these customers are shopping the store two to three times a week now. Larry and Dianne themselves are still getting used to their new digs as the official move was only made this past September. But so far, so good. "Clients LOVE it," says Larry. "The premises are new compared to the old location. The new shelving and the openness of the new store has created the 'wow' factor. That is to say that 98 per cent of customers visiting the Panier Vert's new premises say 'wow' (in both French or English) when they enter."

Although overall the move went off without a hitch, there were some few bumps in the road. Looking back, Larry says the one thing he may have done differently would have been to close the old location for a day instead of remaining open during the move.

For other retailers contemplating a move, Larry shares some advice that he has learned from his experience. "Plan well in advance and do not be afraid to solicit help from your suppliers. The more input you have, the better the business decisions can be." •

story: Delia Carnide photos: B. W. Cole

 

CNHR News Podcast

cnhr radio hour

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

Check out this month's podcast here

Build Your Brand through CNHR Magazine • Include CNHR in your branding strategy 

Get into the hands of 10,000+ retailers

Reach 10,000+ natural health store professionals via CNHR Magazine.  CNHR is delivered by Canada Post six times per year to virtually every health food store across Canada.  Retailers are your true sales force.  So, get your product into more stores and get them selling for you.  

Remember, your first sale is to the retailers.  CNHR can get your message in front of them. Connect with the retailers who sell and recommend your product.

Put CNHR’s many resources to work for you:

Display ads, Product Profiles, Trade Talk news in CNHR Magazine along with Facebook, CNHR web page, 

podcasts, inserts, videos posted to our website, sending product samples to stores…we have the access to Canada’s natural health retailers.  Put our many resources to work for your company and products today.

CNHR is your Trade Media source.  We’re more than CNHR Magazine.  That is just part of what we do.  

We are keeping the industry informed and updated through the magazine, the CNHR Website, our Facebook Page, the CNHR Podcast and our industry e-blasts.  Ask me about all we can do to connect you to the industry and give you blanket coverage across Canada.  Let me help put all of CNHR’s resources to work for you!

Contact:  Katherine Stevens:  kstevens@cnhr.ca   647/975-3370         Contact:  Candace Sicari:  candace@cnhr.ca   705/209-9280

Community Board

Watch here for Job Postings, Wanted Ads, For Hire, etc. To add, contact Donna

Check out the Community Board