23, March 2022
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: BEST HEALTH FOOD SHOP
This month, as part of our Indie Spotlight series, we had the pleasure of chatting to the lovely lot behind Best Health Food Shop – meet Len and Mel. With five stores dotted around the South East, these eco-conscious business owners are on a mission to keep independent, local retail alive and thriving. It’s clear as an island rock pool on a summer's day that connecting to the community is at the heart of everything they do. Naturally, we’re huge fans of their holistic approach to wellness, sustainability and education. So keep on reading to find out more about their journey so far, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they’re adapting to the ever evolving retail landscape.
You describe yourself as a health food shop with a difference. What was the vision behind Best Health Food Shop? How did you get started?
In different ways, myself and my partner Len had worked in the alternative health industry for over 25 years between us. Len’s mum is a well-known nutritionist, Dr Marilyn Glenville, so he has been around health and nutrition his whole life, whereas I was a bit more of a late joiner! We decided in 2016 that although we each ran our own separate business, we wanted to do something together in the industry and were lucky enough to come across a great health food shop for sale in Shoreham by Sea. We wanted to bring something new to the shop, with innovative products and qualified advice, as well as build on the great sense of community. We carried on from there and by 2019 we had five shops, all of which were based on our original shop in Shoreham but with slight tweaks depending on their location and demographic. Beyond our innovative products and exceptional customer service we also focus on education and events to help our customers with their health and nutrition. We feel we go above and beyond to make our customers feel special.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
The journey has been exciting and challenging at the same time. In 2019, we took on three new stores in six months for various reasons and it was exceptionally hard work! We are hugely proud of our achievements but with the pandemic outbreak just a few months after opening these new stores, it has been particularly hard. We have had incredible support from the NAHS and have now transitioned from committee members to taking on the new positions of Chairman and Deputy, as we wanted to give back to other people in the industry who are also struggling.
You mention community a lot, how important is that to your business?
Community is one of the primary focuses for our business. All our stores are deliberately located out of big towns and shopping malls – the idea behind them is that they serve their local areas. We know most of our customers by name and all of our stores remained open during the pandemic, supporting our local communities with deliveries and helping our customers as much as we could. We continue to do this and will be reviving our events calendar later this year to encourage the local community to learn more about health, nutrition and eco-friendly living. We also get involved in as many local initiatives as we can along the way, from donating prizes for raffles to local causes, stocking products from local suppliers, to attending local events and volunteering in the community where we can.
Have you noticed a shift in shopping behaviour in recent years?
Definitely. Our customers are much more eco-conscious. We are constantly improving and expanding our refills range and looking for new ways to encourage people to become even more eco-friendly. Of course the trend for shopping online has greatly increased, but offering refills in store helps us stay one step ahead of this. People are more likely to shop local if you are offering items and services that they can’t get online. We have a policy in store that we endeavour to order in ANY product that a customer requests, usually for collection the next day.
Which Faith In Nature products or fragrances are most popular with your customers?
We find that Lavender & Geranium is the most popular scent overall, but customers are always keen to try new fragrances and we have great feedback on all scents. We think Dragon Fruit is quickly becoming a firm favourite! It does differ between stores as our demographics are very different, but I would say the most popular product is the bodywash, closely followed by shampoo and conditioner. We are keen to get the body lotion refills too!
Do you have any exciting plans for 2022?
The launch of our new website is a main focus for this year, with a view to encouraging customers to click and collect in store. This way customers can still visit the store to do their refills and check out fresh local products they can’t get online. We have worked very hard to push out the ‘click & collect’ option as we still want to encourage people to shop local and come in store. We do a lot to promote product offers, brand loyalty schemes and other similar initiatives on our social media to encourage people to visit us in store. We are also looking to increase our in-store refill ranges! In store events will be back on the agenda later this year, so lots of exciting plans for 2022 to work with our customers to give them more of what they want, which is what it is all about for us.