Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

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Nature’s Health Products Nelson, B.C.

natures health products ownersTom and Kathy Tarasoff, owners of Nature’s Health Products have managed to carve out their very own niche in Nelson, B.C, not only professionally, but personally too. 

Tom and Kathy Tarasoff, owners of Nature’s Health Products have managed to carve out their very own niche in Nelson, B.C, not only professionally, but personally too. 

And they’ve been doing it for a very long time: last year, they celebrated their 40th anniversary with the store.

 “The saying is if you do what you love you will never have to work another day in your life and that's what Tom and I strive to do, have the best of both worlds,”  says Kathy, “a wonderful store in a wonderful city and the balance of a wonderful home with great kids living in the Kootenays.”

It all started over 40 years ago when the owner of three health food stores – one in Creston, one in Castlegar and one in Nelson – had had enough and couldn’t handle the three anymore.  That’s when Tom’s father, John came along to buy the Nelson store, while John’s other son Mickey (Tom’s brother) decided to buy the one in Castlegar. 

Father-son partnership

John always had a passionate interest in the health industry.  He had an organic farm just outside of Nelson, so buying the store was a natural fit for him.  “The Tarasoff family was raised on carrot juice as a staple, with carrots and produce from their own organic garden,” says Kathy.  “Homemade soups, bread, yogurt and kombucha were all normal to them. I grew up with a mother that was very nutrition conscious.  Everything was nourishing, homemade real food, very well prepared, with love.  There was never anything processed.”

natures health supplementsA few years after John had bought the store in Nelson, he needed some help, so Tom would come around and help his dad.  He was 20 years old at the time, going to college and working at the mill and a building supply.  Soon after, Tom recognized the potential in the store and proposed to his dad that they expand.  John agreed to it if Tom would join him full-time and that is when the father-son partnership began.  “Tom's keen interest and talent in business and John’s passion for health made for a successful partnership, combining a perfect combination of knowledge and business sense,” says Kathy.   At that time, Kathy was happy raising her family and working elsewhere. 

But not too long after, a new partnership would be formed when John retired.  Tom bought the other half from his father and Kathy joined her husband.  While Tom continued to specialize in the business end of things, Kathy added her love and passion for working with and helping people. 

This winning combination appears to have paid off as Tom and Kathy have built up quite a following.  They have been in Nelson for the same amount of time as the popular Kootenay Co-op, but Kathy says they choose not to look at it or any other store as competition.  “Our philosophy is not to compete but to compliment and cooperate with everyone in the city.  We look at how we are doing things, not what others are doing.  I think that is why we have a following.  We call ourselves a small, family-owned, old fashioned health food store.”

Personalized care

natures health storeThat personalized view of themselves extends to their customers.  They pride themselves on the personal, caring attention they provide.  “One of the reasons for our success is we definitely have a lot of product knowledge from our years of experience,” said Kathy.  She believes the personal attention is why customers not only keep coming back but new customers also come to see them.  “Word spreads when you are taken care of,” says Kathy.  “I think people keep coming back because we listen to them.  We don't tell them what to do, but brainstorm with them to help them find solutions.  There are so many options for people to help themselves.”

Rheece Hartte of Assured Natural Distribution has worked with Tom and Kathy for decades and he sees first hand just how well their customers are taken care of.  “They’ve been around forever, so people trust them.  There is never overselling, just caring.  Sometimes, there is just advice offered and no products are sold.”

For Tom and Kathy, it’s a lifestyle, not a moneymaking venture, says Rheece.  “Yes, they have done well over the years and brought up their family, but their store is more than just a business.”    Rheece says this could be why Tom has no plans to retire anytime soon.  “Whenever we talk retirement, Tom says, ‘What would I do? I love being here.  I love working with my wife Kathy, seeing my friends everyday, and having fun serving customers until it’s time to go home.  I’d be miserable sitting at home.”  •


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