Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

Supports healthy skin, hair, nails and joints

active collagen Daily use of Active Collagen supports healthy skin, hair, nails and joints. As we get older, our collagen production naturally decreases and drops off significantly after menopause. Sourced from sustainably-sourced and wild caught fish, Active Collagen can help offset this natural decline. This product offers a neutral flavour alternative to the current Organic Raspberry Flavour, a crowd favourite, which can be added to shakes, smoothies or juices.

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Staffing the point of sale function

point of sale carolee colterOnce retail stores reach a point where it no longer works to have every buyer maintain the prices for their own products in the point-of-sale (POS) system, the question arises – how shall we staff the POS function?

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What to do about food waste?

Different food waste on white background top view. Clean banana, egg shells, shells of nuts, cleaning onions carrots potatoes, bits of green salad and branches from the tomato.In the natural food industry, food waste is often in our daily conversations; what does your store do with its food waste? I can’t compost in my city; how can I lessen my food waste? Of course, I send over ripe produce to the deli!

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Your real competition

deane parkes competitionIf you believe the online market is where your main competition is, you would be incorrect.

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Quarter Master Natural Foods

quarter master staffHere are the people who bring the “why” to life at Quarter Master:  From left, owner Tim MacMillan, Andy Pettifer, Marnie Gray, Aron Barnes, Adam Whitford, Michael Sutherland (manager), Brad McRonald(assistant manager), Jennifer Wilson, Sylvia Squair. Missing from the photo: Joyce Lewis, Jessy Deroneth and Deborah Galardo.

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Organic Garage

CNHR editor Bruce W. Cole popped in on some members of our natural health community during a recent road trip in the western part of the Greater Toronto Area.

organic garage staff  Organic Garage opened in 2006.  Today, there are five stores. On a visit to the original Organic Garage on Oakville’s Kerr St., we met (from left) cashier supervisor Aliyah Allen, produce manager Gibson Elek, grocery manager Carson Ash and grocery specialist Blanche McCoy.

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Nutters Everyday Naturals in Red Deer, AB has a new, spacious home

nutters owners“The smaller location didn’t allow for such a broad product mix,” says Brad Winsor, Nutters’ regional manager, retail operations. “Since the move, we were able to expand many sections and essentially serve our customers better.”

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Take your store beyond the door

wayne roberts janfebWith “Dr. Google” just a click away, consumers are heading to the internet now more than ever for health-related advice.

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Healthy gut, happy baby

organika baby probioticBuild the foundation for a healthy gut and soothe bouts of colic with Organika’s new Baby Probiotic Drops with Vitamin D. Clinically proven probiotic strains help create a balanced gut microbiome, nurtured by prebiotic fibre from beetroot. Plus, vitamin D makes sure bones and teeth grow healthy and strong!

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Natural aphrodisiac

assured naturals libidoNew look – same libido enhancing formula! 

Ultimate Libido with tongkat ali is an aphrodisiac formula for men and women with naturally sourced ingredients. It combines epimedium extract, used in herbal medicine as an aphrodisiac, along with tongkat ali, damiana powder, niacin, zinc, and BioPerine® black pepper extract, for a comprehensive approach to maintaining a healthy libido. 


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Certified Naturals™ AppleSlim™ Capsules

certified apple slimThe power of apples’ polyphenols.  AppleSlim™ is a new supplement featuring the power of apples’ polyphenols. Using wild-crafted, unripe apples for optimal antioxidant activity, the polyphenols contained in AppleSlim™ are clinically proven to assist with weight management, cardiovascular health and healthy blood pressure. Contains the innovative weight loss ingredient ApplePhenon™ – available in Canada for the first time ever!  Visit  or call 888/292-5660 to order.

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17 human clinical studies

traumaplant comfrey creamTraumaplant® Comfrey Cream from Terry Naturally CANADA helps to temporarily relieve aches and pains of muscles and ligaments caused by strains and sprains (such as acute ankle distortion and back pain). It also helps soothe sore muscles and is tested PA (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) free. Lastly, it’s safe for children ages three and up!   855/287-2646

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Gluten free oatmeal ready in three minutes

bobs red millBob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups feature hearty blends of whole grain oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, fruits, nuts and spices. Available in four different flavours and ready in three minutes – just add hot water or pop in the microwave.

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Two new products from Daiya

daiyaDaiya is proudly unveiling its plant-based vegetable crust pizzas, which feature a crispy gluten-free crust made from cauliflower, spinach and sweet potato, and are topped with Daiya’s acclaimed Cutting Board Mozzarella Shreds. Savoury, saucy, with a perfect cheesy stretch – your new go-to pizza. Pair it with Daiya’s new deliciously dairy-free pints. Made with rich coconut cream and luscious swirls of caramel and fudge, this premium dessert is ultra decadent and creamy.

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MaxOmega-3-Force:  3X better absorption!

max omega forcePrairie Naturals MaxOmega-3-Force uses the MaxSimil® enzymatic process that pre-digests Omega3 and delivers a readily absorbable and self-emulsified, monoglyceride-rich oil. MaxSimil® Omega-3 monoglycerides can be directly absorbed into the small intestine with no digestion required. MaxSimil® is clinically shown to increase the absorption of EPA and DHA by three times* Clinical data shows an improvement in the Omega-3 index with just one softgel per day of MaxSimil® patented Omega-3 fish oil.

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What is win-win? An interview with Donald Cranston, president of Nutters Everyday Naturals

donald cranstonThis issue, I interview Mr. Donald Cranston. Donald has been doing this even longer than I have, so stand by for plenty of wisdom!

Alain: Thanks so much for taking part in this series, Donald. First off, let’s make sure our readers know a little about you and Nutters. Can you give us an intro please?

Donald: I’ve been in this role as a family-owned business since 1984, so 35 years. I was asked by my uncle to invest in and join Nutters. He and his partner were building Nutters as a bulk food concept in Medicine Hat. I was also looking at a Nutters franchise for myself in Calgary where I lived. But my uncle’s partner wanted to sell his interest in the company, so I jumped at the opportunity to become an owner in a new company, and to work with family. I came out to Medicine Hat and our team started building Nutters from six stores, and now we have 24. 

There have been tremendous changes over that time period. Over the years, we have carefully adapted to a quickly changing retail market.

Alain: I started in 1985, so you beat me by one year. Indeed, there have been so many changes over that time period. 

Donald: Retail is consistently changing. You have to adapt, you have to innovate, you have to figure out what your core strengths are and how to succeed with those strengths.

Alain: Thanks for this intro. The next question is what are some of the top three to five factors that – to you – make for a win-win relationship with vendors?

Donald: No doubt, on-going collaboration is the key; building our business together in a long-term relationship. Other factors include innovation in product development, staff training and field support staff. Most of our locations are in rural areas, so we really appreciate our sales representatives helping us on sales days, product/dinner trainings and overall working with us to get better. The vendors that have helped us grow the business are still with us after 35 years.

Alain: I came to know Nutters back in 2001 when I was doing consulting work with Prairie Naturals. I was so amazed at the Nutters welcoming and partnering approach. 

Donald: We work hard at our relationships with our vendors. We need to work together on trouble-shooting, sales support, promotional planning, strategic buying and other operational matters. We highly value our working relationships with the likes of Deborah Callbreath, Deane Parkes, Jean Robertson and other marvelous individuals that have helped us grow our business and be better connected with our customers.

Alain: I am sure most store owners and staff would agree that it’s all about working together. Our third question is this: Can you share an example of a great vendor or great story? 

Donald: I mentioned Jean Robertson earlier. She was our business development contact for Natural Factors at the time. Back in 1992, we invited her to a Nutters franchise conference at Kananaskis. We had so much fun. We were so green about the vitamin and supplement business at the time. She was the inspiration to help us get in the health and wellness side of the business. 

Jean not only helped educate us on the vitamins and supplements opportunity, she helped mentor me and our company along the way. It wasn’t just about selling Natural Factors products. It was about properly entering the category with product selection, merchandising, meeting customer needs, and how to train our staff. I’ll never forget how important Jean has been to our success.

Jean still sends me the odd email about trending information, merchandising, how to connect with our customers, product quality, efficacy and more. She’s always thinking about us. That really resonates with us and I can’t thank her enough.

Alain: Thank you very much Donald. Thirty-five years of wisdom on a one-pager is not an easy task, but I think we have the most important stuff covered.

In later issues, we’ll be asking other industry experts for their views on win-win. Opinions will most likely vary and even conflict. But it’s always guaranteed to be food for thought.

Donald's Checklist

• Adapt to a quickly changing market

  • Ongoing collaboration
  • Product innovation
  • Staff training
  • Field staff support
  • Vendors that help us get better
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Not your typical pharmacy

mortar pesto staffMortar & Pesto in Red Deer, AB., is not your traditional pharmacy.  That’s because owner Jennifer Fookes is not your typical pharmacist.

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Finding your store's sweet spot

finding your stores sweet spotI like picking berries in the summer. It’s one of those memories that lasts into the fall and winter, much like the frozen berries that are hidden in the freezer for a tasty bit of summer on a cold day.  I am not sure if I was always a good berry picker but I do remember picking berries as a child and filling my belly as well as my bucket.  As a teenager, I spent a few days picking berries for pay and outlasted my brothers who seemed to tire of picking once their stomachs were full. 

Berry picking is a lot like retailing; you need to be mentally prepared to stick it out despite the environment. You must have the right tools if you are going to be successful; you have to work through the thorns, avoid the bears, and pick where others aren’t. You need to be ready to work when you find the sweet spots. 

Often I see retailers that – like my brothers – if their belly is full, they are content enough to stop looking for more customers. They tend to be satisfied that they can pay their weekly or monthly bills, and rest for a while. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that model of business if it works for you.  The problem can be however, that if we stop working when we feel full, we don’t put aside anything for the future. Retailers – like bears – need to fatten up when the feeding is good in preparation for those winter-like off seasons where we need to tighten our belts. 

Finding the sweet spot for your store is not always easy.  When berry picking, one of the best things I learned from my mother was to look where others don’t. I like to call this “the sweet spot,” because there are often so many berries that picking becomes easy and my bucket fills quickly.  I look high where others can’t reach, and I look low and lift the branches to find the hidden berries that others didn’t see because they were so fixated on the berries right out front. 

When we have a store, we need to look for customers and opportunities our competition has missed because they were too fixated on the business right in front of them.  While this area out front is an area of opportunity that represents easy picking, there are often many pickers trying to fill their buckets with this limited nourishment.  When we can pull back the bushes and see the bounty hidden there, it’s often so much easier to fill our business buckets. 

As a retailer, when others were cutting back on customer service, we added staff and trained them well, looked for exclusive products and as a result were seen as the experts in our field which enabled us to establish profit centres within the business. 

Finding sweet spots

When we look for sweet spots, we need to consider our abilities and build on our strengths, to think about what we can do better than others and capitalize on those areas, to look at our competition and see where there are gaps in the market where nobody is harvesting. When we establish ourselves as experts in certain areas, it allows us to charge premium prices and offer premium service.  If we want to fill our buckets for the slow times, we need to ensure that we pick those nice fat berries and seek areas unnoticed by our competitors

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2020 Vision for Natural Independent Retailers

The past decade has demonstrated enormous growth in the natural food and supplement market. The supplement category grew from $10 billion to $45 billion in under 10 years while the natural food category grew at an even greater pace with vegan, keto, paleo, prepared and clean foods leading consumer choices.

Although online shopping still causes the most angst among independent retailers, it really is the mass market that has taken the lead in natural health. Conventional grocery, pharmacy and big box stores now have over 55 per cent of the entire natural health product (NHP) category while online is still relatively small at four per cent. 

Why should consumers still shop in health food stores when mass is more convenient and online appears so much cheaper? What is so special about a natural health food store? Why do customers return?  It is the people working in the natural health food stores that keep people coming back, as they truly care about making a difference in the health of the customer’s life! 

Over the past several months, as a business ambassador with Natural Factors/Assured, I have had the pleasure to train over 300 staff, managers and owners on customer service, merchandising, promotions and management. These are some of the visions I took to the trainings.


In a recent article, I suggested it is primarily women working in health stores, taking the time and effort to study and learn about natural health foods and medicines.  They are the true caregivers in our society. They teach the local women – who make 75 per cent of the family health decisions – about the benefits and safe solutions of natural health products.   What other business in your community has staff who listen with care while helping guide people to a healthier lifestyle? 


Whether you own a store in a high-density neighbourhood or a small community, you MUST take the lead to educate the local community on the benefits and solutions of the products you sell. 

Also educate on the fact that health stores have had no serious health incidents and zero deaths from vitamins.  What we sell is safe and has been for 60 years. Who else will educate the local community on organic, zero waste, homeopathy, vitamins, and botancials if not YOU?! The media? Government? Google? As if.  You must control the message of natural health in your community.


I was taught early on in my retail career to always consider the following: How do you know the customer will ever come back? What can you do to increase your chances?  How they feel when they walk out the door is always the number one consideration.  However, you must stay connected. Always collect a customer’s contact information.

If you find customer counts are lower,  perhaps create a one-month in-store coupon. When a customer spends a specific amount, say $50 or more, you give a three dollar coupon for their next visit. “Thank you for shopping with us today. Here is a $3 coupon as a gift off your next visit.”  Remember, they may be in the store now, but how can you encourage them to come back? 


Most of us have gone to a store like Winners where the impulse aisle is 100 feet long. I have read that if impulse shopping ended, the economy would collapse, with more large retailers depending on impulse as the profit generator.  The checkout counter is the perfect place for an impulse sale.  It should be under $9.95.  Pick a good general solution like sleep, cold and flu, stress, anxiety or digestion.

Have a staff member trained to point out the special – “If you have trouble sleeping, we have a special on XYZ.”  During cold and flu season, the staff member could say, “Do you have enough vitamin D on hand?”

One retailer shared with me that in a regular month, sales of a particular brand of product was 44 bottles.  By training the staff to suggest an offer at the counter, they were able to bump it up and sell 1,300 bottles in a month!  


It seems Health Canada believes clinical trials should be required to justify the claims made for natural medicine.  Please read or go online and find out the truth about clinical trials.  Become educated on the limited – if even true – results of a drug trial compared to 60+ years of safety with vitamins, minerals, homeopathics, botanicals, super foods, etc. as sold across Canada, in local health stores, for generations with NO serious side effects.  

BE LOUD, PASSIONATE and PERSISTENT with the wellness message and products you provide, and if you are loud enough, someone just might hear you and change their life for the better.

Happy sales…

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Night and Day Shifts

night shiftUs and them.  Maybe it’s human nature for groups to form an identity in opposition to others. In competition between sports teams and businesses, this tendency can be channeled in a positive direction. However, when it emerges within a business or a single department between those who work the early shift and the people who work the late shift, the rivalry becomes destructive to morale and productivity.

Unsung heros

Night and weekend workers are the unsung heroes of retail. They really make or break customer service. Yet, they’re often the lowest-paid in the store because they have the lowest seniority. That happens when the early shift is regarded as desirable, sometimes even as an entitlement for those who’ve “paid their dues.” 

The unfortunate result can be elitism on the part of day workers and a sense of victimization for night workers, not to mention substandard service for customers. The day shift grouses that the night workers leave work undone and leaps to the conclusion that they must be goofing off because they just don’t care. The night shift feels unappreciated and unsupported when the day shift doesn’t stock up or produce enough output to last through the evening rush.

But this “us and them” dynamic between shifts is not inevitable! Managers can take action to end it. 

Working the late shift

The first step is for managers to schedule their own time so that they work across shifts, or vary their shifts. That way they have firsthand experience with the performance and working conditions of all their staff members. 

It’s common for department managers to prefer to come in early and leave before the evening rush, citing the need to call in orders in the mornings. As a result, they don’t interact much with their later shift workers. However, ordering deadlines need not dictate the quality of supervision. Managers can call in orders the afternoon before, or train others to do this task for at least one or two days a week so they’re free to work a later shift now and then. 

Walk a mile in others’ shoes

Next, cross-train all department staff in the tasks of both shifts. Or in small stores, cross-train all staff. If the early shift emphasizes production or displays, while the late shift focuses more on assisting customers, ensure that everyone can perform both sets of tasks. When training new workers, schedule them to work the opposite shift for one or two weeks. 

A manager of an organic meat department in a large natural health retail store took over the job at a time of high tension between the morning and evening shifts. He immediately started cross-training. “Once they walked a mile in others’ shoes,” he remarked, “day and night workers would comment, ‘I never realized all they did.’” 


Brief daily department meetings help unify the team. Schedule them at the time of the shift change. 

Discourage negative written messages between morning and evening shifts in favour of open, honest, solution-oriented discussion of operational problems in face-to-face meetings.

How to reduce and prevent conflicts between shifts

       • Schedule management to work across shifts or varied shifts.

  • Cross-train employees in skills needed for day and night shifts. 
  • Appoint a person in charge on night shifts if you’re not there—an assistant manager or shift leader. 
  • Hold department meetings at times both shifts can attend. 
  • Constantly uphold the priority of customer service for all employees.
  • Nip “us against them” sentiments in the bud. Challenge those who complain about the work of other shifts to be part of the solution.
  • Don’t take sides.  Show that you value the contributions of both shifts.
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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

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.

 Katherine Stevens:   647/975-3370         Celange Potocki   905/869-4870

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