Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

Things You Can Do for Your Store to Thrive

dave fuller articleMany retailers are stressed at the thought of what is happening in the health food industry right now. Amazon buying Whole Foods, the erosion of margins with online shopping, and more and more products showing up in the mass market.

If you want to survive as a health food retailer in the next couple decades, you are going to need to do things differently than you did in the past.

  1. Exclusive products

To survive, health food stores are going to need to have their own brands that are not available everywhere.   To have access to this, health food retailers will need to have a supplier that is giving them brands of products that are not available in the mass market.  While you may feel you need some mass market products, your customers are coming to you because you are the trusted advisor. If you have the knowledge to help them address their problems and concerns, they will buy what you put in their hands.

  1. Niche markets

Health food stores who survive the change in the retail environment will have to have specialty niches where they are able to identify their potential customers and offer them specific products to satisfy their needs.  Perhaps this is an anti-aging clinic, the men’s testosterone stop, or the skin care centre.  This may mean that you will have to do things that you didn’t do in the past: offering services that are difficult to do, or products that are hard to get.  Health food retailing will be getting harder, but the creative will thrive. 

  1. Human contact

Millennials, Generation Xers and upcoming generations are going to want the human aspect of retailing that baby boomers had and then some.  While we all might be on the computer more, we all crave to be touched, spoken with and humoured. Physical touch and real human presence is hard to experience over the computer. Brick and mortar health food stores will be around as long as they can offer this.  Store owners are going to have to encourage their staff to develop meaningful relationships because this is what customers want.

  1. Experiences

   It’s true that 3D is coming to retailing online, but you can’t taste food, feel fabric or smell scents online. Health food retailing is going to need to give customers even more experiences that fill the senses.

  1. Business knowledge

It was once the case that you could open a health food store because you wanted to help people have a chance of success.  The chance of success now has been significantly reduced. In the past, store owners would spend money in advertising without measuring the results and set margins and price products upon a whim. Look at financials once a year and rely on your accountant to interpret them.  Future store owners are going to need to be strategic, cunning and knowledgeable to thrive.  Those that understand how business works and how they can create value for their customers, are going to be successful.

Health food retailing is changing but those who can adapt will be able to feed their families, hire great staff, help their customers and contribute to their communities for years to come. 

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Featured

Pleine Lune turns forty

pleine store frontAliments Naturels Pleine Lune sits in a very prominent location in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.  Perched confidently on the southeast corner of two busy roads, it presents a very impressive visual to passersby and customers alike. 

Pleine Lune (“Full Moon” in English) may not have always had such a high profile physical location, but it has always held an important position in the hearts and minds of its customers since it founding.  Its longevity is proof of that.  In 2018, Pleine Lune celebrates a major milestone: 40 years of serving the people of this city of 100,000, located roughly 40 kilometres to the south of Montreal’s south shore. 

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The high maintenance employee

high maintenance employeeDo you have someone on your team who you think of as “high-maintenance”? What do we mean when we throw around that phrase? The workplace behaviours I’ve heard supervisors describe include:

  • Chronic complaining.

  • Demanding the supervisor’s constant attention

  • Dependency, needing ongoing direction

  • Endless questions, concerns and problems with any work assignment.

Note that all these behaviours are inter-related. And they involve a pattern, not one-time events.

Recently, I came across the concept of the “Adversity Quotient.” Dr. Paul Stoltz defines the Adversity Quotient as “the capacity of the person to deal with the adversities of his/her life.” The high-maintenance employee has a low Adversity Quotient. Instead of meeting challenges with resilience, they blame others and make excuses.

And somehow there are always things going wrong in the lives of high-maintenance people. They are perennially at the centre of some sort of drama.

Up to a point, I’d say that it’s your job as a leader to rise to the challenges that high-maintenance employees bring to the workplace and help them make the most positive contribution possible. Some really high performers can be a challenge to manage or work with together on a team, yet the value they bring to the organization outweighs their less desirable behaviours.

If you find that you are continually avoiding or ignoring someone you consider a high-maintenance employee, it’s time to get analytical. Did they get proper training in the first place? Do they have objectively more on their plate than they used to have? Would they benefit from more structure, more directives from you, rather than a hands-off management style that their co-workers seem to prefer?

And what’s your part in this? Could your own instructions be clearer, or expressed more effectively for this person’s learning style? Could you be more generous with praise and appreciation to help build their confidence? Are you setting and upholding boundaries so that you get uninterrupted time periods to focus on others or your own work?

Or are you allowing the high-maintenance employee to cross those boundaries and take up your time whenever they want, even if you resent it?

After examining your role in the dynamic with the high-maintenance employee and resolving to change some of your own behaviours if needed, you can coach this person on alternative approaches they could take for a more productive work relationship. For example:

  • Set up specific (and limited) times in the day or the week when they can come to you with questions and problems.
  • When they do bring a problem, ask them to always recommend a solution.
  • Ask them if they notice any patterns in the problems they bring to you.
  • Ask if there is any part, even a small part, of a situation they’re willing to take responsibility for.
  • Brainstorm a list of possible actions. Keep asking, “What else can you do?”

Show your appreciation

Let’s say you take all these steps and you notice some improvements – a little more self-sufficiency, fewer complaints, some follow-up on your suggestions. If that happens, be sure to let the person know you’ve noticed and you appreciate their efforts. People do more of what they receive positive reinforcement for doing. They tend to lapse back into old behaviours in the absence of that positive reinforcement.

If there’s no sustained improvement? If the high-maintenance employee is otherwise doing good work, you’ll just have to maintain your boundaries and be sure that they get no more than their fair share of your time and attention. If they are performing poorly, follow your steps for corrective action, just as you would for any other employee.  • 

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CHFA West offering retailers strong business program

 

chfa logoIt’s been a busy holiday season. Now that you’ve taken a moment to enjoy reading the latest issue of CNHR, please also take a few minutes to visit chfa.ca/west for the most up-to-date information on this year’s CHFA West.  The show is being held at the Vancouver Convention Centre on February 22 to 25 and there’s no question the event will live up to its theme, Connecting the Industry.

More opportunities

What can retailers expect? We’ve created even more opportunities for you to network both on and off the trade show floor.  And, we’ve developed one of the most comprehensive conference programs to-date.  One of the sessions that will be of interest is titled Death by Amazon. It’s a jarring headline that was published in the Financial Post. The article led with “Amazon.com Inc.’s purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc. last month has pushed an already nervous retail sector into a collective panic not seen since the great recession.” But the real headline according to Bruce Winder should be “how retailers can withstand the onslaught.”  Bruce (co-founder and partner at the Retail Advisors Network), is often interviewed by leading TV media outlets such as BNN, CBC, CTV News, CP24, Global News and has contributed to the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, The Toronto Star, Reuters, Bloomberg, Adweek, The Calgary Herald and the Ottawa Citizen just to name a few. We’re excited to be able to bring his expertise to the program.

Sharing insights, solutions

Another highlight for 2018 is the Retail Leader Round Table where retailers will share challenges, insights and solutions. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to make connections with retailers who share the same experiences.  There are a whole host of other great topics including trends and global influences, marketing to millennials, organics vs. “x-ponics” and more.  Check it out at chfa.ca/west and register today.  •

Conference:

February 22 & 23, 2018

Trade Show:

February 24 & 25, 2018

10:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. daily

Vancouver Convention Centre

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Guelph organic conference

the big carrotTwo in three Canadians (66 per cent) are spending at least some of their weekly grocery budget on organic items, up a staggering 10 points from 56 per cent in 2016.  This is according to a September 2017 report from the Canada Organic Trade Association.

And with that increased spending comes the challenge of staying on top of research and trends related to organics. 

“Information these days is delivered and digested in quick takeaways and bullet points,” says Kate McMurray, outreach coordinator at The Big Carrot in Toronto.  “It’s important to open up the conversation with consumers beyond ‘how does organics impact me’ to the value of the broader organic system that is providing positive economic, social, nutritional and environmental impact.”

At The Big Carrot, a number of different initiatives are undertaken to prepare staff for these conversations.  A team of nutritionists provide customer service.  Staff play active roles in industry organizations such as the Canada Organic Trade Association, CBAN, the Non-GMO Project, and the Organic Council of Ontario.  Initiatives such as Nature’s Finest Fund and Retail Organic Certification are a priority.

All of these activities ensure staff training, constant learning and knowledge transfer are a priority at The Big Carrot. 

As part of their industry involvement priorities, The Big Carrot will once again play a key role in the Guelph Organic Conference.  A Platinum Patron of the event, The Big Carrot will be exhibiting, and Kate will present “Current & Relevant Organic Research” – a free workshop on Sunday, January 28. 

Kate’s workshop will be one of 43 program offerings covering topics from organic crop and livestock production to organic gardening. “This is a dynamic, leading event in the Canadian organic sector,” says Tomas Nimmo, conference manager.  “Our conference offers excellent opportunities to network and learn about different features of the organic value chain.  We draw a diverse audience including farmers, grain traders, manufacturers and many others.”

The free trade show Jan 27 and 28 will showcase over 150 exhibitors, including Pfenning’s Organic Farm,  Booch Organic Kombucha, GoBio and Harmony Organic Dairy.   Many exhibitors will be offering samples to attendees.

“Not only do we stay connected through industry involvement, but we then have these networks as resources,” adds Kate.  “Part of our brand and success is the trust customers place in us, and by being involved in various initiatives, including the conference, we have been successful as an organization.”

To learn more about the Guelph Organic Conference (Jan 25 to 28), visit  www.guelphorganicconf.ca

For more information about The Big Carrot visit  wwww.thebigcarrot.ca 

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Elderberry Crystals

flora elderberry crystals

Flora launches new Elderberry Crystals.  Don’t let seasonal issues leave you feeling under the weather. Flora’s new Elderberry Crystals are bursting with antioxidants and help provide relief from cold and flu symptoms. Blend them in with your favourite juice or smoothie for a healthful, convenient and delicious boost daily, or when you feel the symptoms of seasonal issues coming on. Gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, raw and vegan. For more information, speak to your Flora account manager. 

Call 888/436-6697, or visit www.florahealth.com.

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CoQ10 Ubiquinol - 6X More Absorption

innovite c0Q10

Not all CoQ10 is created equally.  INNO-Q-NOL starts with the scientifically validated Kaneka QH CoQ10 Ubiquinol.  Exceptionally stable. Sourced from yeast fermentation for the highest purity. Backed by over 30 years of clinical research.  INNO-Q-NOL is further enhanced with our exclusive Q-Gel Technology featuring Triple Protected Stability.  The additions of MCT Oil and Vitamin C further boosts Ubiquinol stabilization and protects against oxidation.  www.InnoviteHealth.com  888/220-3853

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Promote Healthy Sleep

natual calm sleep

Introducing Natural Calm Calmful Sleep, a naturally relaxing nighttime drink. Specifically formulated and licensed to promote a healthy sleep.  This formula features a blend of sleep promoting ingredients, including award winning Natural Calm magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, gabba, L-theanine and melatonin.  Calmful Sleep goes to work right away, creating the conditions for restorative sleep.  Available where supplements are sold or go to www.naturalcalm.ca.

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Fermented Gut Superfoods+

genuine health superfood

Introducing Genuine Health’s NEW fermented organic gut superfoods+! Made with 22 fully-fermented plant-based superfoods and prebiotics to nourish healthy gut flora, it’s the ultimate prebiotic superfood! Plus, it’s fermented to provide amplified nutrients for your gut – and overall health! www.genuinehealth.com

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Super Antioxidant - Black Seed Oil

enerex black seed oil

Enerex Black Seed Oil gets the Gold alive Award for Healthy Oils & EFAs and a Bronze for New Product! Plus two additional awards from National Nutrition: a Gold for our Enerex Serrapeptase 120,000SU in the category of Best Joint Health and a Bronze for our Enerex Greens for the Best Greens category. Many thanks to everyone who voted and congratulations to the other winners!     www.enerex.ca

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Once a Day Probiotic

renew life critical care

Ultimate Flora Critical Care’s blend of 50 Billion active cultures from 10 different strains in a ‘once a day’ serving helps ensure a healthy microbacterial environment in the intestinal tract. It uses a unique, water-based enteric coating to protect the probiotics from harsh stomach acid and delivers them directly to the intestines where they are needed and utilized by the body.

www.renewlife.ca

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Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

now lemon eucalyptus oil

This new oil from NOW is extracted by steam distillation from leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree. This refreshing scent can be uplifting, and when used as a chest rub, may alleviate the discomfort of colds.

www.nowfoods.ca

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Probiotic Kid Stiks

sisu probiotics kids

Sisu Probiotic Kid Stiks are an unflavoured and odourless probiotic that deliver 5 billion kid-friendly probiotic cultures in every serving. They are non-GMO, gluten-free and can easily be sprinkled onto food or mixed into a drink to support digestion and overall health.  www.sisu.com

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Curb cravings, increase energy

keto activWhether for weight-loss, athletic performance, mental clarity or anti-aging, KetoActiv is an exogenous ketone that does not induce gastrointestinal distress.

KetoActiv is a powder that when mixed with water helps control the appetite, curb cravings and increase energy.  KetoActiv promotes mental focus and clarity, supports cognitive health, reduces inflammation, improves strength and endurance, preserves and protects the muscles, and provides healthy blood sugar levels in diabetics. Learn more at www.sunforceorganics.com

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Misleading TV ad inspires Calgary retailer

sunnside health storePatty Nowlin and Pat Guyn – the husband and wife owners of Sunnyside Natural Market in Calgary – were in California in 2012.  They were there at the same time state residents were asked to vote either for or against mandatory labelling of products that contained GMO ingredients. 

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Fulfilling your store's customer service potential

rebecca torpie1Rebecca Torpie, former marketing manager for a natural foods co-op in Philadelphia and now a consultant in marketing and brand strategy offers some insight on exceptional customer service.

Even with brick and mortar retailers struggling against online stores, and the mass market undercutting prices on natural and organic products, our industry has an opportunity for competitive advantage—offering exceptional customer service. Is there room to up your store's service game?

Recently, I had a conversation with my colleague Rebecca Torpie, former marketing manager for a natural foods co-op in Philadelphia and now a consultant in marketing and brand strategy.

Carolee Colter: Define customer service...

Rebecca Torpie: There are several pieces to customer service.  This includes having operation systems in place to meet basic expectations; for example, having an accurate POS, adequate parking, and clean washrooms. Beyond that, customers have expectations to be wowed and delighted.

Carolee Colter: How do managers make certain that wowing and delighting occurs in their stores?

Rebecca Torpie: First, leaders must articulate to the staff what it means to be a great customer service operator. If you can’t articulate it, you can’t share it. You need a customer service philosophy. Using an “off the shelf” philosophy developed by others is okay as long as you follow through and ensure that philosophy is used throughout the entire store.

Then you need to ensure training is done systematically for all employees at all levels, and not just for new people. Plan for training, say, every quarter or every six months.

Carolee Colter: What methods work best for staff training?

Rebecca Torpie: There should be written materials for trainers to follow to ensure consistency in what people are taught over time and across departments. Role playing works very well for practicing responses to difficult interactions so that people feel prepared. Be aware that role playing could make people uncomfortable, so keep them light and fun. And make sure staff feels comfortable going to their managers with a question.

Carolee Colter: How about training for internal customer service?

Rebecca Torpie: Customers observe how staff members interact with each other. In the training, address how to handle peer-to-peer interactions, including across departments.

Carolee Colter: At a store I consulted for, they had a saying, “Stay, listen and learn.” If you don’t know the answer to a question, take the customer to someone who knows the answer and then stay and listen to your coworker’s response and learn the answer for next time.

Rebecca Torpie: Also, budget for desk time and research time in employee schedules so they can learn about the latest products. Cultivate a culture of using downtime for learning. Also take advantage of sales reps’ offers to train about new products.

Carolee Colter: Another learning opportunity comes if a manager needs to step in to “make it right” with a dissatisfied customer. Then the manager can debrief with the employee, do active listening, acknowledge any bruised feelings and coach on how to handle it next time.

In the end, the culture of an organization is what the leaders actually do, not what they say. Should leaders always be asking themselves, “How do I personally delight and wow the customers?”

Rebecca Torpie: Leaders certainly do model for the rest of the staff. You can’t expect the staff to do what you won’t do.

Carolee Colter: How about leaders who are introverts? Once an introvert explained to me that everything he did in public was “theatre.”

Rebecca Torpie: Some people have a high comfort level interacting with customers, others less. But customer service is a part of doing business. You need to put on your social face and not fake it. It’s about quality, not quantity. If you make two good touch-points with customers that are excellent, that’s better than ten that are mediocre. •

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Make your health food store a winner

make your health store a winnerWhich silver car is it?  Tony Kibonge shouted, as I tagged a car and he raced by. This race to the silver car was a re-match of another race I had won one cold morning in Stuart Lake. We had raced through the water up to my chest and Tony’s neck!   While I had won both races, the truth of the matter is that Tony ­– who is 13 years old – is a much faster runner than I am.  In fact I think he might be one of the fastest 13 year olds in the country.  However, in both races, I made sure that I had distinct advantages. I really had no intention of losing, although in both races it was a real possibility.  More on that later.

But what about you? Are you intent on winning with your store? Do you have a strategy or are you going up against, quicker, faster, better competition and just hoping that you are going to win, without really even a hope?  So often we are going against competition that is so stiff that our goal is just to keep our heads above water and pay the bills. 

Give yourself an advantage

So why don’t we change the game?  When I raced against Tony Kibonge and his class the first time in a lake, I knew I had a clear advantage.  I knew that I weighed 100 lbs more and was a good eight inches taller than Tony and this would help me as I moved against the water in the lake to the finish line. In business, we often think that we have to run the race that our competitor has already established an advantage in.  I knew that if I was to race Tony in the 100, 200 or 400 meters that he so loves to race,  I would be left in the dust. So I don’t race those races.

In the health food business, we too need to change the odds so that they are in our favour. We need to think about what we are better at than our competition, both online and mass.  If our competition has better prices than us, then, we better focus in an area where we can add value and price is less of an issue.  This may be great service or exclusive products.  To distinguish ourselves, we need to really be different and find customers who are willing to pay for that difference.

Setting goals

And what does winning mean? In every race, there is a finish line and a goal that we are striving for. However, most small retail health food stores don’t have real goals. We are just plodding along hoping that our store is going to grow without having any real plans, any targets for sales or marketing, profit, or any other measurable outcome. 

If you would like to double your business in three to five years, you need to grow at 20 per cent a year.  So, how do we do that?

  1. The first step is to establish a goal and to write it down.  Put that goal up on a wall or white board – somewhere you will be reminded of it often and everyone on your team can see it. 

  For example, “Sales Target: by 2020, we will have two million dollars in sales.”  

  1. Pick a Strategy to Achieve Your Goal – It might take time to work this out with your team, but if you want to get people on board, you might want to include them in picking the best strategy. If you have a really small store, it might mean that you need to set time aside to put some thought into how your business will achieve the goal.  What specific customers are you going to go after? Where is the area that you are going to have a distinct advantage over your competition? Do you need to change your pricing model or your marketing strategies?
  1. Lay out some tactics to achieve the strategy. These might be things like: We are going to start putting on more seminars in the store; we are going to focus on brain health this year; I am going to spend 50 per cent of my time each week working on the business and getting more people in the store, and 50 per cent working on the floor. 
  1. Measure your progress.  Once you have started working towards your goals by implementing your strategies and tactics, you need to measure the progress and celebrate the wins. In the retail health business, we need to play to our advantage.  Just as I tried to beat Tony by setting the parameters of a race that I could win, you need to do the same thing with your business.

Focus only on areas where you have an advantage. Know where the finish line is, and celebrate each and every accomplishment. Make your health food store a winner! •

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After thirty years there is a new owner for Garden Health Vitamins

garden healthAfter 30 years as owner, Susan St. James has sold her store, Garden Health Vitamins in Vancouver, to Deanna Henry.  “Deanna has a five year history in the health food industry at Ave Maria in Prince George, B.C. and comes from an entrepreneurial family,” said Susan. “I believe that Deanna is a perfect fit as the new owner of Garden Health and I am pleased that I can leave my legacy to her. My current staff, that have stood by me for several years, will be standing by her as she brings her inspiration to the store that serves this downtown community and beyond. I will be supporting Deanna over the next few months and I hope you will welcome her.” 

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Durham Natural Foods

durham natural foods storeDurham Natural Foods has seen two distinctly different phases in its 39-year history.  It has been a big operation.  And it has been a small operation.

Store owner Gilles Roy and his brother, store manager Ray Roy, agree: they prefer the smaller – and current – size of the business.

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Toronto’s Organic Garage

matt lurie organic garageWhen Matt Lurie said it is hard to describe the Organic Garage in words and that you have to see it to really appreciate it, he was right.

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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

March-April 2018- Show follow-up

Follow-up with retailer show attendees with an ad in CNHR’s March-April issue.

Thousands of retailers will be walking the show floor at CHFA West.  Many will pass by your booth and have conversations with your sales team.  You want to maintain that connection with those retailers long after the show is over.  

CNHR’s post-CHFA West coverage in the March-April issue can help you do that.  

Retailers will be reading CNHR to see the post-show coverage.  Your advertisement helps deliver your sales message to the thousands of retailers who attended CHFA West.  And there are some extras...take advantage of our Trade Talk section with your news.  Get your new products featured in our special “Product Spotlight” feature (free to advertisers!)   

As a bonus, your ad in CNHR will also reach the thousands of retailers across Canada who did not attend the show!  Our studies show more than 10,000 buyers, owners managers and staff read each issue of CNHR.

Our readers are more than your buyers...they are your front-line sales team, influencing and recommending products to their customers.  So be top-of-mind with them.  Get your sales message into CNHR.

Honour Canada’s top natural retailer!

CNHR is creating its “congratulations” page in the next issue to honour the winner of the CHFA Brock Elliott Memorial Award for Excellence in Retailing.  Share your well-wishes with the winner for the entire industry to see.  Send us your logo, plus your 20 words of congratulations.   Book now...as space is limited!    Just $425. 

Product Spotlight - 1/6th page sized expanded product profile: only $499 or FREE with a full or half-page ad

Make a big impression on retailers in the March-April issue with a Product Spotlight product feature. Get your new product into the hands of thousands of retailers. Big colour photo, 40 words of copy and your contact info. This 1/6th page Product Spotlight Show Special is only $499. FREE to all advertisers with a full or half-page ad.

Let us custom-create a quote to suit your budget.  Contact:  katherine@cnhr.ca, or candace@cnhr.ca

 

 

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