Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

Optimum Health Vitamins

by Bruce Cole

To truly understand Optimum Health and Vitamins in Edmonton, AB, one must initially understand its founder and owner, John Biggs. First and foremost, John is a practitioner, and everything he has created in almost 20 years of retailing is viewed through a practitioner's eye.

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Nature's Fare Market gets a make-over

Nature's Fare has given its Vernon, B.C. store a major make-over. Alexa Monahan, marketing director of Nature's Fare, reports the Vernon location – which was built in 1996 – was ready for a new look...and some additional room.

"We reached a point where we had limited space, outdated décor and colours and outdated fixtures. It was just time to do something."

The major part of the project was the addition (via construction) of 2,000 sq. ft. of space. This allowed all departments to expand. The vitamin department grew from 2,000 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft., while the grocery section added 1,000 sq. ft., bringing it up to 6,000 sq. ft.

The Apple Bistro, which is the store's café – serving organic entrees, soups, salads, sandwiches, daily features, homebaked goods, smoothies, juices, coffee and tea – grew by 200 sq. ft. And the café's seating capacity more than doubled in size, from 14 to 36.

Other changes include new grocery shelving, a new grab-and-go deli case, a new floor, new signage and the addition of some freezer doors

Alexa says all the hard work has been worth it and has created a positive buzz with clientele.

"The feedback has been amazing. Customers love the newer contemporary look, the expanded selection, the addition of the bistro lounge area, and the brighter, more modern feel."

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San Tai's Natural Health

San Tai ownersNestled in the small, charming town of Virden, Manitoba sits the equally small and charming San Tai Health Foods. For rookie retailer Kathy Hamilton, Virden was the ideal place to open her first health food store in 2010. "The population is around 3,500 and higher with surrounding areas, so it is a bit bigger than a small town but doesn't have the city atmosphere. Virden is a very progressive small community with agriculture and oilfields keeping the town in full motion."

Located in southwestern Manitoba, Virden first developed as a farming community, but when oil was discovered in 1951, it soon became known as the "oil capital of Manitoba." But oil and farming aren't the only things Virden is known for. It is also known for it's beauty. In 1920, it was nicknamed "Virden the Beautiful" and was one of the first communities to participate in the Communities in Bloom program. Since it's participation, Virden has been recognized for achievements in the areas of heritage preservation, environmental programs and a long term vision for the environment. (source And of course it's home to San Tai Health Foods. Kathy took some time recently to tell us about her 900 ft. sq. store and her experiences as a new retailer.


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Hedley's Health Hut finds a new home

Bob Hedley had been waiting for the right time to move his store. Who knew the right time would take 31 years to arrive?

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Karma Marketplace

Erin Chapelle is a retailer who is really thinking outside the proverbial box. When she wanted to create positive change in her community, she decided the best way to start was by opening a health food store.

However, it is everything Erin is doing "outside of the box" – her store – that is getting the attention of the locals.

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Two Farm Kids Natural Foods

Two Farm Kids Natural Foods in Brandon, Manitoba is owned and operated by....well, two farm kids. Sylvia and Greg Ubell both grew up on farms, so it was really a no-brainer that in 1988 when they opened their own independent natural food store that the “two farm kids” name would stick.

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Vita Health celebrates 75 years

Vita Health Fresh Markets in Winnipeg, Manitoba is proof positive that great things can come from modest beginnings.

Starting as a small mail order company in 1936, and growing to a full fledged retail business with six thriving and successful health food stores in 2011, Vita Health has definitely come a long way in it’s 75 years.

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Health Tree

“Over the 20 years I’ve owned my business, I’ve had a lot of teams and a lot of great people work for me and not to take anything away from any of them, but what we have right now is really something amazing,” says John. “They are self-motivated, they do their best and they treat the store as if it was their own.”

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Nature's Emporium

Wow…this place is really, really big!”

That is the first thought that enters your mind as you walk into Nature’s Emporium, Canada’s largest holistic market, which features over 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space.


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La Boite a Grains, Gatineau, QC

You could say La Boite à Grains came full circle in 2010. The Gatineau, QC. health food store celebrated its 30th anniversary in November (see CNHR Jan-Feb 2011) and the Gatineau Chamber of Commerce also named it Business of the Year...

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Health Wise expands their grocery department

Health_Wise_supplementsIn the May-June 2010 issue of CNHR, we introduced much of Canada to Health Wise, a gem of a store in Welland, ON. Fresh from celebrating its 20th anniversary, Health Wise recently added 1,600 sq. ft. to its existing store. Store manager Julie Beaver and grocery manager Carla Smith were the masterminds behind the addition, which saw the grocery department expand from just a few shelves in the old store to virtually the entire new section.
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La Boite a Grains celebrates 30 years

La_Boite_a_GrainsCongratulations to Pierre Menard, Real Deslauriers and their team at La Boite à Grains in Gatineau, QC on reaching the 30-year milestone. Pierre was one of the original partners when the doors opened in early march 1980. Industry friends, family and customers joined Pierre and his team on November 30 to mark the anniversary.

One of the major reasons La Boite à Grains has continued to grow over the three decades has been Pierre's willingness to change when needed, and grow when the opportunity presents itself. For example, the original store in the Hull area of Gatineau has had some physical changes over the years, including a major overhaul recently. Even the second La Boite à Grains store, which opened in 2005, didn't escape Pierre's scrutinizing. It recently underwent a little re-vamp to improve the customer flow within the store.

Pierre is encouraged with the way the natural health industry in Quebec has changed over the years, and how things are developing for the future. "The major change I see in recent times is the younger crowd (ages 20 to 35) coming into the store. There has been a mini-baby boom in Quebec the past seven or eight years, so we're getting lots of young families. But we're also getting many single people. Ten years ago, this segment represented about 10 per cent of our business. Today, this age group makes up about 22 per cent of our customer base."

Pierre is confident the hard work of himself and other long-time industry people has contributed greatly to the current growth and interest in the natural health sector. "The words we know and promote – organic, fair trade, buying local, ecological, biodegradable, low foot print on the environment – these are more than words to this group of young people. They don't just know them... they live them. It has become a part of their value system. They really get it and believe in it like we first did 30 years ago ...and this is great news for our planet and our business." •

La Boite à Grains is just one of the many health foods stores in the Ottawa region which is creating news. In the March-April issue of CNHR, we'll be reporting on the changes, expansions and innovations of retailers on both sides of the Ottawa River, including an expanded feature on La Boite à Grains. •

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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.

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Avril Supermarche Sante

It's big. It's innovative. It's beautiful. "It" is the third – and newest – Avril Supermarche, which opened October 10 to much fanfare and support from family and industry colleagues in the Montreal suburb of Brossard."..."

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Nutter's Bulk & Natural Foods

Nutters_health_store_staffNutter's Swift Current now calling a new 6,000 sq. ft. space home

As a youngster, Doug Fleck recalls making the journey into Swift Current, Saskatchewan with his family and shopping for clothes in the Stedman's Department store.  These days, Doug is spending a lot more time in the old Stedman's location.  However, it is now a Nutter's Bulk and Natural Foods, and Doug is the store manager.


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Major Expansion at Goodness Me!

Goodness-Me-health_storeyAll good things are happening at Goodness Me's flagship store in Hamilton.

"Two things we are working on simultaneously: refreshing our brand to impact all three of our stores and expanding our largest store from approximately 17,000 to 19,000 square feet," says general manager Michael Jacks. ...

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Burlington Health Foods celebrates 40 years in retail

Burlington-Health-FoodsThere are not many people who can boast about being an integral part of a successful retail business for 40 years. However, Bill Gall – owner of Burlington Health Foods – has more than earned those bragging rights.  This year, Burlington Health Food celebrates its 40th year anniversary. The store recently marked this monumental milestone with 40 free gifts to the first 40 customers, 40 per cent off selected products and cake and refreshments for everyone....

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Health Wise in Welland ON celebrates 20 years

Health_wise_store_j.pegHealth Wise...just celebrated its 20th anniversary and is about to get bigger & better

Julie Beaver, the store manager of Health Wise in Welland, ON, has a funny story she likes to tell.  “I remember an elderly man walking by and poking his head in our store and saying, ‘Why would anyone ever need a store this big that sells hippie food?’  His prediction was that we would be out of business in two months.”...

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The Healthy Hut health food store

Healthy_Hut_storeLucy Miller's career as the owner of the Healthy Hut health food store almost ended before it ever really got going. All is well now, but it wasn't without the type of challenges that make some people throw their hands up in frustration and walk away.
Within the first year of buying an underperforming health food store in Cochrane, Alberta in 2003, Lucy had some serious obstacles tossed into her path. For example, after only a year into the venture, she was told she'd have to move (in the middle of winter), as her lease wasn't being renewed."..." Read More

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Re-visiting “the move” 1,000 days later

Goodn_NaturalIt was the spring of 2006 when Dennis Schroeder and his daughter Leane Harasymchuk engineered a major move, taking their store Good ‘n’ Natural from a 1,000 sq. ft. downtown strip mall location in Steinbach MB to a new, larger 2,700 sq. ft. space on a high traffic corner across town.  (CNHR Sept-Oct 2006)

Operating in a general trading area of roughly 30,000, which includes towns surrounding Steinbach, Good ‘n’ Natural was also to some degree competing against natural stores in Winnipeg, just a 40 minute drive to the north and west.  Prior to the move, many steps were taken by Leane and Dennis to visit other natural stores across the country and to also get the pulse of their customers, asking what they’d like to see in the soon-to-be created location.

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CNHR News Podcast

cnhr radio hour

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

Check out this month's podcast here

CHFA West Preview

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

What's in the Jan-Feb issue:

  • • CHFA West Show Preview
  • • Alberta store features
  • • Wrap-Up of HFN AGM
  • • Amazing business columnists

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:   647/975-3370         Contact:  Candace Sicari:   705/209-9280

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