30 Noteworthy Retailers

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Vitamin Retailer (VR) magazine honors 30 brick-and-mortar natural product retailers—single and multi-store—that exemplify the characteristics of professionalism, service and expertise.

Choosing only 30 stores was difficult. VR magazine appreciates the hard work of the many retail staff members and stores around the country that meet the needs of their communities and keep the natural product industry moving forward.

Betsy’s Health Foods, Spring, TX

Betsy Billingslea first opened Betsy’s Health Foods in Spring, TX in February 1993. After beginning her career as a registered nurse (RN), Billingslea turned to alternative medicine for her family when she wasn’t seeing results from conventional medicine.

Most recently, Betsy’s Health Foods opened a new location at the intersection of Louetta and Champion Forest Drive in Spring, TX, which they dubbed the Louetta Flagship store. Their other location resides in Houston. “Finally, after almost 30 years in business, we have a location that can accommodate not only our original location customers, but also the customers we’ve gained with our satellite locations this past decade,” said Ramona Billingslea, marketing/education manager for Betsy’s Health Foods. “Since our original store on [Farm to Market Road] 1960 is in an area that has seen some really big decline in the last few years, this move north has made us very hopeful for the future of our family-owned business.”

Betsy’s Health Foods mainly carries supplements, which account for about 95 percent of what the store offers. They also carry a small amount of HBA products, along with a small selection of food.

The new flagship is conveniently located for much of the store’s customer base. In addition, “The store has room to grow, with plenty of sales floor space, a separate room where our staff can work on mail orders and stocking, a conference room that doubles as a super break room, and offices to accommodate the work that John (Betsy’s son, Ramona’s husband and the store’s co-owner and general manager), Betsy and myself (marketing and education guru) previously had to accomplish off-site,” explained Billingslea.

The store’s motto is “Always Taking Your Health to Heart,” and the staff aims to implement that motto from the moment a customer steps into the store.

Cambridge Naturals, Cambridge, MA

When Michael Kanter opened Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, MA in 1974 with his wife Elizabeth Stagl, he had already been pursuing alternative health options and natural foods for some time. Today, Cambridge Naturals has two locations—one in Cambridge (Porter Square) and a second location in Brighton (Boston Landing), which opened its doors in 2018.

Cambridge Naturals features vitamin supplements, organic body care, organic and natural specialty foods, locally made, fair-trade, unique gifts and personal care products. The store is committed to sourcing products locally, organically, and ethically via fair trade and direct trade channels, and to donating a portion of its profits to social and environmental organizations.

A family-owned business serving the community and are members of Cambridge Local First & Somerville Local First. Cambridge Naturals was certified as a Sustainable Business Leader by SBN Massachusetts and in 2014, it completed a rigorous assessment process and were certified as a B Corporation, Cambridge Naturals remained part of the B Corporation community through 2020—shifting gears in 2021 to focus our time and energy to upholding those same values, while directing the funds and energy for recertification toward other partners in its community.

Debra’s Natural Gourmet, West Concord, MA

In 1989, Debra Stark founded Debra’s Natural Gourmet, an approximately 1,000-square-foot store, with loans from family. In the early years, she regularly worked 80-hour weeks at the store in West Concord, MA, and cooked, cashiered and stocked the shelves. Eventually, “the little store that could” grew, rising even to national prominence. The store was even named a “hometown powerhouse” by Inc. Magazine. Stark’s professional memoir The Little Store that Could was (self)-published in 2019.

Debra’s Natural Gourmet offers an extensive selection of vitamins and herbs, organic products, packaged and fresh foods, grass-fed local meats and cheeses, holistic body care, natural home care, pet foods and products, as well as small gifts and artisan crafts.

In 2022, while in the final stages of expanding Debra’s Natural Gourmet, with the opening of Debra’s Next Door, Stark died away suddenly on April 18 at the age of 75. Debra’s Natural Gourmet is now under the helm of her son, Adam Stark. Debra’s Next Door opened in June 2022, which offers approximately products that shoppers can purchase in bulk—from fair trade coffee to shampoo and toilet paper. The new location also has a catering kitchen to offer healthy options to event and party planners, all with a zero waste goal.

Erewhon, Southern California

Erewhon founders Michio and Aveline Kushi began selling macrobiotic and organic foods out of 10-by-20-foot stall in Boston, MA basement market in 1966. The Kushis moved to California and opened Erewhon on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles with the idea to educate people to live a healthier lifestyle and the importance of eating a macrobiotic diet, based on Asian nutritional philosophies.

In 2011, Erewhon was purchased by Tony and Josephine Antoci and began to expand the business by opening a second location in Calabasas in 2014, Venice in 2016 and Santa Monica in 2018, Silver Lake in 2020, Studio City in 2021, Beverly Hills in 2022, and most recently, Culver City and Pasadena in 2023.

The company’s value statement: “We offer the highest quality foods and products possible so that our customers can lead the best possible lives,” is reflected in the list of unapproved grocery ingredients including processed sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavorings, among others. A Certified B Corp, Erewhon also became a Certified Organic Retailer in 2022.

Erewhon is also known for its high-end clientele, and offers organic food, cold pressed juices, supplements and lifestyle products. In addition, Erewhon offers prepared café foods (which accounts for 40 percent of its overall business, according to Fast Company) and often collaborates with celebrities, such as Kourtney Kardashian, Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber, on specialty smoothies that can cost approximately $20 each.

Down To Earth Organic and Natural, Hawaii

Down to Earth began in 1977, in Wailuku, Maui, when a group of friends started their first store, and shortly afterward opened a second store. They did so out of a desire to help improve the health of Hawaii’s residents by making available organic and natural products at affordable prices (the slogan used to be, “Healthy foods at prices that won’t make you sick!”) and educating about the many benefits of living a vegetarian lifestyle.

Over the past 40-plus years, Down to Earth has grown and flourished to become an important part of Hawaii’s community with six locations in Hawaii. On Oahu: Honolulu, Kailua, Pearlridge, Kapolei, and the newest location in Honolulu’s Kakaako district; and Kahului on Maui.

In addition to the Kakaako store opened in April 2018, a new and larger Pearlridge location opened in the Pearlridge Center at the end of 2018. And in August 2019, the Kailua location moved into the new Lau Hala Shops in a former Macy’s building. “We have a lot of growth and expansion underway,” according to store owners. “While this is possible due to the hard work and commitment of the Down to Earth team, it is mainly due to customers’ loyal support throughout the years.”

Fruitful Yield, Chicago, IL

Fruitful Yield, (formerly known as Health House) was started by the Richard family in 1962. The Less than 500-square-foot store was located in Elmhurst, IL, and focused on soy products, foods and the few nutritional supplements that were available at the time. Sixty-one years later, the retailer’s 15-plus Chicagoland locations average 4,000 square feet, all with vast inventories, including the family’s global nutritional food and supplement brand, NOW.

Fruitful Yield currently has 12 stand-alone stores in the western suburbs of the Chicagoland area. The retailer also has a “store within a store” partnership with regional grocer Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, with Fruitful Yield stores located within four of their locations. Fruitful Yield also offers product at FruitfulYield.com., and the total number of associates is 136.

The focus on nutritional supplements has guided the in-store experience. “Because we have historically been a supplement retailer that offers natural grocery, we do not offer a bakery, deli or meat counter. Fifty-three percent of our sales floor space is dedicated to supplements, 38 percent natural grocery, 8 percent body care and 1 percent organic produce,” explained Joe Fulco, Fruitful Yield president.

With natural product retail competition strong in the Chicago, IL area, the store relies on the staff for differentiation. “We compete against supplement independents, national supplement retailers, independent grocers and national retail brands, so it’s extremely competitive,” Fulco said. “What differentiates Fruitful Yield is our people and our product training. We are always looking to recruit and obtain high energy, outgoing people that are interested in the health and wellness industry. When they join Fruitful Yield, every associate, no matter their position, goes through our product training classes. We want every associate to be comfortable on the sales floor and have the knowledge to be able to provide a legendary customer experience to all of our customers.”

Jimbo’s, San Diego, CA

Jim “Jimbo” Someck is a man who practices what he preaches, and he has always felt very fortunate to have a career that reflects his lifestyle and belief system, according to the store website. Someck is an avid runner and a strict vegetarian. His wife, Colleen Someck, prepares daily family meals from scratch. The same guidelines apply at home as in his stores—no white sugar, no harmful chemicals or preservatives, and organic ingredients whenever possible.

His dedication to protecting the environment for our children’s’ future and a healthy lifestyle is embodied in his company’s vision statement, “a piece of organic fruit in every child’s lunch bag.” It is also evident in the Jimbo’s “It’s in the Bag” Recycling Program and Kids Club Program.

Someck came to San Diego from New York more than 40 years ago and started in the health food business breaking down cardboard boxes. Years of hard work and personal commitment to his customers and employees have been recognized over the years through numerous awards and accolades. A stickler for detail in all aspects of his business, Someck still maintains an open door policy for all employees.

Someck opened his first store in 1984 in North Park and since then, opened five San Diego stores: Carmel Valley, Escondido, Carlsbad, 4S Ranch, and downtown Horton. (He has subsequently sold the North Park store and has closed the Horton Plaza store.)

Today, with four stores and strong personal ties with local organic farmers and natural food vendors, his stores are a premier natural foods destination in San Diego County.

Garner’s Natural Life, Greenville, SC

A family-owned natural health store, Garner’s Natural Life has four locations in South Carolina. The store began as Garner’s Natural Foods, an entity begun in 1969 in a 750-foot trailer by current owner Candace Garner’s former mother-in-law and her sons in Greenville, SC. After marrying into the family, Garner joined the business in 1978.

The couple was married for 21 years and raised four children–David, Jeff and twins Matt and Missy. After they divorced, they stayed in business together. Her ex-husband, Robin Garner died in 2007, at a time when the 18,000-square-foot store they had been operating was experiencing a decline in business as it faced competition from newer, bigger entities including Whole Foods Market. Garner had to re-evaluate the entire operation, a rented space that included what she described as a “well-shopped” wellness department along with a deli/restaurant, produce section and a bakery.

In 2008, she closed that 18,000-square-foot store and brought a business with a new focus and altered name to a 3,500-square foot space. The new store was a success, and Garner opened a second location in 2010.

Today, Garner’s Natural Life has two stores in Greenville, as well as locations in Columbia and Lexington, SC. The stores specialize in vitamins, herbal supplements, kratom, CBD and Delta 8. They carry a number of clean lifestyle products including chemical-free shampoos and conditioners as well as natural soaps, as well as a number of other products.

Get Healthy, Florida

For Laura DeWitt and Karen Greenway, serving the public with healthy choices has always been on the agenda. Co-owners and managing partners of Get Healthy Vitamins & Natural Foods, which has a home location of Brooksville, FL and a second location in Spring Hill, FL, the two women immigrated to the U.S. from England in 1990 on an investment visa with the intention of opening a vegetarian restaurant. Although they did buy an empty restaurant space, attached to it was an existing health food store, which had been in the community for 13 years. The two turned their attention to health food and nutrition, and this year, they are celebrating 30 years in business.

Aside from their roles with Get Healthy, both women have increased their presence in the natural products industry, as well. DeWitt is a national education specialist for EuroPharma USA and Vital Planet, while Greenway is a Florida broker representative and a SENPA board member and past president. In addition, for the past five years, DeWitt has been a guide and mentor to long-time employees, now general managers, Kelli Derryberry and Brian Mosser.

“Our stores are both full-service natural food locations,” said DeWitt. “Approximately 60 percent of our stores are devoted to a large supplement department with a help desk. We have one wall of HBA in each store, one wall of packaged bulk and the rest of the store comprises a comprehensive selection of organic grocery items, keto, vegan and a big gluten-free section, plastic free lifestyle, gifts and a large new pet section.” The Brooksville location also features a café and dining area.

As far as competition in their rural area, the biggest is Publix supermarkets. But Get Healthy differentiates itself with gold standard customer service, a highly educated and long-standing staff team, the highest quality brands, and in-store educational events. “We are relationship builders and keepers,” DeWitt said.

LifeSource Natural Foods, Oregon

In 1994 LifeSource opened to serve the Salem community. The store founder, Alex Beamer, saw an opportunity to help provide Salem with fresh, healthy, organic food from local Willamette Valley farms and businesses.

According to the store website, “We love our community, so we sell only the finest natural and organic foods available. Our mission is to make it easy to eat healthy, fresh, and locally grown organic food. We’re leading the way to great health for people, our community, and our planet.”

LifeSource features some of the finest vitamins and herbs available in the Pacific Northwest, products with no synthetics or harmful chemicals. Staff members carefully curate a range of products to protect, nourish, and strengthen your body.

“When you walk through our doors, you’ll be greeted by fresh produce, a globally-inspired deli hot bar, and a friendly, experienced team ready to help you eat well and be happy!”

Kimberton Whole Foods, Pennsylvania

In 1986, Terry Brett and his wife Pat Brett were running a small biodynamic farm store outside of Philadelphia called Seven Star Farms. It was located in a 400-square-foot building where they sold organic yogurt that was made onsite.

Today, the couple owns six natural grocery stores, Kimberton Whole Foods, with a majority managing position in a seventh, where they work alongside four of their five children and approximately 260 employees.

Primarily a food store with 45 percent devoted to fresh—meat, poultry and other perishables—Brett said supplements have a strong presence and recently have been seeing a 14 percent sales increase. The store’s locations range in size from under 4,000 up to 15,000 square feet. Kimberton’s supplement selections offers 150 different vendors.

Kimberton’s believe the true value of being a community market is in making contributions to the lives of its neighbors and the larger local economy. The retailer works with more than 200 local producers in the Greater Philadelphia area, and defines local as being within 100 miles of our distribution center in Downingtown. This central location helps Kimberton’s local vendors increase their reach while minimizing their carbon footprint and distribution costs.

Martindales, Springfield, PA

Martindale’s Natural Market enjoys the distinction of being known as the first health food store in the country. Newly formed, Oil City, PA was the original location of the market’s founding in 1869. Now located in the Olde Sproul Shopping Village in Springfield, the store’s focus on health, wellness, and food purity is a natural outcome of its origins.

While working with his father at the store, in 1909, Thomas C. Martindale began importing diabetic foods. This action was the forerunner of the dietary foods business and placed Martindale’s establishment as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, dietary food store in the U.S. The son was passionate about nutrition and is recognized as one of the pioneers advocating, promoting and teaching “food consciousness.” People came into the store to discuss their health and dietary problems with him. His idea of health food was simple: eat whole grains, whole wheat and fiber, while eliminating sugar and junk food.

Ownership passed outside of the family in 1991 to Dale Reece, principal, along with co-owners. Martindale’s still promotes natural food consciousness, while serving the needs of those with special diets. Springfield has been the store’s home since 1971 when the Olde Sproul Shopping Village was first built. In 2020, the store doubled its size at that location.

Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods Market, Glendale, CA

Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets was founded by Sandy Gooch in 1977 and was based in Sherman Oaks, CA. She was the first woman to develop a chain of supermarkets in the U.S., with seven markets in the greater Los Angeles area.

Mrs. Gooch’s offered a range of quality, nutritious foods at one location while getting people excited about healthy lifestyles that gave rise to the natural products store model now emulated by thousands of retailers nationwide. Gooch was known to help local farmers unload organic product from their trucks and also visit supplement manufacturers’ facilities to make sure they were clean.

Gooch set such high standards in her day that industry leaders referred to the best items as being “Goochable.”

In 1993, Mrs. Gooch’s was the largest-grossing natural products market in the world with annual sales of more than $90 million. Whole Foods Market Inc. bought Mrs. Gooch’s that year in a $56-million stock deal that merged the nation’s two biggest natural-food supermarket chains.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Colorado

A Colorado-based health food chain, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (formally called Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets and commonly referred to as Vitamin Cottage or Natural Grocers) began in 1955 by Margaret and Philip Isely with $200 as a door-to-door sales operation with the dream that everyone should be able to afford a healthy and active lifestyle. The first Vitamin Cottage location was opened in 1963 in Lakewood, CO. A second location was opened in Denver in 1974. After Margaret Isely died in 1997, the Isely’s children took over the business. Today, there are 167 locations throughout 21 states in the U.S.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage offers a selection of more than 30,000 natural and organic groceries, supplements, body care and household produc’’ts as well as free science-based literature, nutritional counseling and educational cooking demonstrations led by its employees.

According to the company, the products sold by Natural Grocers must meet strict quality guidelines and may not contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners, or partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils. The company said that it sells only USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)-certified organic produce and exclusively pasture-raised, non-confinement dairy products, and free-range eggs. Natural Grocers also provides extensive free science-based nutrition education programs to help customers make informed health and nutrition choices.

Mastel’s Health Foods, Saint Paul, MN

John Mastel decided to open a health food store in the mid-1960s, after experiencing several long illnesses. Convinced he’d exhausted all the options provided by conventional medicine, a gravely ill John picked up the holistic how-to manual You Can Change Your Life, and resolved to do just that.

On Dec. 9, 1968, Mastel’s Health Foods opened its doors near the corner of Fairview and Saint Clair Avenues in Saint Paul, MN. Mastel recruited a tight crew of fellow health enthusiasts to run the shop during the day so he could continue his job at the Highway Department. He devoted himself to the shop on evenings and weekends.

“When people asked me why I started the store, I said, ‘to improve my health.’” But that’s only part of the story. John quickly developed a symbiotic relationship with his clientele. “My customers were a thrill!”

Business gained momentum through the 1970s, attracting folks within a 40-mile radius. In 1977, John quit his day job to work at the shop full time. That same year, he moved Mastel’s to its present location. With 50 percent more space, the new venue created room for more products and made for a more comfortable shopping experience. At the turn of the century, John phased into retirement while maintaining ownership of the business.

In March of 2023, John sold Mastel’s to the two employees that were the management team for several years—Lauren Gaffney and Alina Hornfeldt. The two have a shared passion for the health and wellness industry, and a strong desire to keep Mastel’s the same trusted community resource it has been for decades. Friends since 2005, they have a dynamic partnership that keeps Mastel’s vital and prospering.

With more than 4,000 products on the shelves and a mail order service that extends its client base by thousands of miles, Mastel’s Health Foods keeps pace with a booming industry while retaining its dedication to superior products and personalized service just as the founder intended at the outset—more than 50 years ago.

Mother Earth Foods, Parkersburg, WV

Mother Earth Foods is an independent, natural health food store located in Parkersburg, WV. Offering a wide variety of vitamins, supplements, foods, beauty items, pet supplies, cleaning products and more. Mother Earth Foods has been a favorite place to shop for the people of the Mid-Ohio Valley almost 49 years. The retailer is dedicated to the total well-being of its customers, employees, and community through education and informed choices, providing them with excellent service and quality healthful products.

Owner David Hawkins, aka “the Herb Doc” or “Healthy Dave,” is a Master Herbalist and Certified Nutritional Counselor who believes in providing the surrounding area with more than just a unique place to shop. Under his direction, the store offers many educational resources to the community including a weekly talk radio show and quarterly Healthy Living events.

In addition to his retail business, Hawkins maintains a busy Herb Doc consulting practice. He is often a featured speaker and teacher throughout West Virginia and Ohio, having taught courses at both West Virginia University’s Integrative Medicine Program and Marshall University.

Hawkins began his studies into natural healing in the early 1970s. He was very curious about body systems and how to prevent disease processes. Exploring the Eastern approach to wellness, he practiced yoga for many years. He became a strict vegetarian and experimented with numerous diet plans including fasting and macrobiotics. He investigated the energetics of different foods based on traditional systems from around the world.

Hawkins is a past president of the West Virginia Herb Association and has been a practicing herbalist for more than 40 years. He developed his own line of products named Earthworks.

Every Wednesday morning Hawkins hosts a live radio talk show, Highway to Health. He also conducts the Healthy Living Series, a free local program promoting holistic health and wellness concepts.

Mother’s Market, Southern California

Mother’s Market was founded in 1978 by a group of yoga enthusiasts who were passionate about health. They believed that eating a mostly plant based diet was better for your health and also better for the planet. Their vision was to create a store that centered around a plant-based diet, fresh juicing and better-for-you organic foods. They truly believed that what you ate mattered to your health, happiness and overall well-being so they ventured into their first store in 1978. It was a 2,500-square-foot vegetarian mecca in Costa Mesa where people came from all over southern California to find what they were looking for. Since then, Mother’s has grown into 12 Southern California locations—always staying to true to its founders’ vision.

The store’s vision is “To guide you to lead a stronger, more balanced and abundant life.” Its mission is dedicated to serving health and wellness every day.

Store Values:

• To be of service to our customers, our community, our team members and our partners
• To live with intention
• To uplift and nourish the communities we serve
• To support the belief that when you are distinctly you, you make great things happen.

Nature’s Garden Natural Food and Shoes, Reading, PA

Nature’s Garden opened in 1977 “in order to help people make good nutritional choices,” according to the owners. Today they are still doing that by selling only quality supplements from reputable manufactures.

The retailer is a full grocery store that also provides local organic produce, wheat-free and gluten-free foods and other foods for special dietary needs. Along with their customers’ nutritional requirements, the retailer also caters to their customers’ quality wardrobe essentials. The store carries a full line of Birkenstocks, as well as other footwear, handbags, outerwear and accessories from brands such as Naots, Keens, haiku, Smartwool and Patagonia.

The original owner, Susanne Fiori opened the store with a passion to help people live the healthiest lifestyle possible with the use of supplements, diet and exercise. She studied macrobiotics with Michio and Avaline Kushi in Boston and has dedicated her life to the pursuit of clinical evidence supporting the use of nutraceuticals. Fiori has continued her education of natural medicine by studying with Michael Murray, ND, Jan Slama, MSC, Michael Lyon, MD, Ajay Goel, PhD, among many others.

Co-owner and partner Cindy Boyer joined Nature’s Garden in 1996. Boyers has a B.S. degree in addiction counseling from Alvernia College, attended Clayton College for Naturopathy and has various certificates from supplement trainings. She manages the purchasing of supplements and footwear as well as aiding in customer relations, marketing, and sales. Along with Fiori, Boyer has also continued her education of nutraceuticals.

The two host the “Healthy Living” with Susanne and Cindy AM radio show on Monday evenings.

Nutrition World, Chattanooga, TN

In December 1979, Edward Jones opened Nutrition World. The original store carried mostly supplements and was only about 1,000 square feet, but it was the first in its area—Chattanooga, TN—to carry athletic products, such as Weider and Hoffmans, which helped set the store apart and mark it as a destination.

The most recent incarnation of Nutrition World has 34 staff members at the store, which is located in a 11,000-square-foot building that Jones owns, half of which is houses the retail store. There are 17 practitioner partners in “The Wellness Corner” that accompanies the store, which offers acupuncture, counseling, midwifery, personal training, Circle of Life Medicine, thermography screenings and chiropractic care.

According to the founder, “The evolution of Nutrition World happened slowly through many stages to what we are now becoming, which is a wellness complex that encompasses holistic options, education, treatments and products associated with health. I see the future as exceedingly bright as to others following in our model of the future of health care. We offer the chance for those struggling with health to embrace a full spectrum of information.”

For retailers, a mission statement defines their brand, creates a personality, empowers employees, prioritizes values, guides decisions and establishes parameters for a unique customer experience. For Nutrition World, the mission statement is: “Tirelessly devoted to remarkable customer service, ruthlessly efficient, passion for learning nutrition and relentlessly optimistic. For their customers, the statement is: “Partnering with you on your wellness journey …”

“These sentences are more than just words to us; they breathe life into the core of our business,” said Cady Kuhlman, wellness director, co-owner and Jones’ daughter.

Organic Marketplace, Gastonia, NC

Organic Marketplace opened its doors in 1992 by Renee Southard as an 800-square-foot supplement shop in Gastonia, NC. Southard said that she quickly understood that supplements did not fully address the needs of her customers. After working with customers and listening to request from the community, Southard brought in organic foods and HBA to more adequately address healthy living which resulted in relocating Organic Marketplace to a 5,000-square-foot location in 2003.

Organic Marketplace provides its community with all the resources needed for holistic health and positive living by offering supplements, natural and organic health and beauty aids including skin care, hair care and cosmetics, fresh produce, bulk foods, as well as alternative goods such as dairy-, nut-, wheat- and gluten-free items for specialty diets. The store also offers seminars, classes and Workshops covering a wide variety of topics and interests. The store has been bag free for a number of years and always looks for minimal packaging. In the bulk section, customers are able to bring in their own reusable containers to keep waste low.

And after serving as the education director for the non-profit organization, SENPA, Southard is currently serving as the organization’s president.

Rainbow Blossom, Louisville, KY

In 1977, Rob and Pumpkin Auerbach founded Rainbow Blossom Natural Foods Markets in Louisville, KY. In its inception, Rainbow Blossom was a natural food restaurant with a store connected to it. Today, it has five locations, with four stores in Louisville and one in New Albany, IN. Two of the locations also hold an organic juice and smoothie bar called Blossom Bar, with another location opening soon.

Since the day it opened, Rainbow Blossom has been selling supplements, and Carlson and Thompson were the first lines carried, according to Summer Auerbach, the couple’s daughter and Rainbow Blossom’s second generation owner. “Now the majority of our square footages is designated to grocery, but we have a significant supplement set at every location.”

Rainbow Blossom hosts a number of events and holds a weekly farmers’ market every Sunday from May to November at its St. Matthews location. Featured vendors include local farmers, food artisans and craftsman, organic meats, fresh eggs, baked goods, preserves, ready-to-eat items and hand-crafted good.

As a part Rainbow Blossom’s mission, the store supports organizations that are working to strengthen the local community by donating to non-profits (501 (c) (3)) focused on disadvantaged populations, youth and education, the arts, sustainable agriculture and good, fair food.

Sprouts Farmers Market

In 2002, Sprouts Farmers Market opened its doors in Chandler, AZ offering farm-fresh produce and thousands of natural, organic foods. In 2011, Sprouts joined with Henry’s Holdings, which ran 35 Henry’s Farmers Markets stores and eight Sun Harvest Market stores. A year later, the company bought Sunflower Farmers Market, which ran 37 stores. And in August 2013, Sprouts became a public company traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation was created by the company in 2015 and focuses on empowering individuals, especially children, to live healthier lives by supporting programs that teach nutrition education and increase access to fresh, nutritious food. In the first five years, foundation, in collaboration with Sprouts’ vendors and customers, donated more than $10 million to more than 300 nonprofit partners. And in 2019, the foundation awarded $3 million to non-profit organizations, including 118 Neighborhood Grants supporting grassroots children’s nutrition education programs.

Today, Sprouts is currently located in 23 states across the U.S. and employees approximately 31,000 team members. In September 2023, Sprouts opened its 400th location in Haddon Township, NJ and will be opening a number of new stores in 2024.

Sunrise Health Foods, Illinois and Indiana

“Founded 1961 by my parents Herm & Lill Chapman, I’ve grown up in the aisles of Sunrise Health Foods,” said Dan Chapman, store owner. “ I fell in love with helping customers from early on. My parents started Sunrise because my mom was sick finding a new lease on life as she changed her diet and began to integrate herbs into her daily routine.”

Chapman added that the store’s product selection has certainly changed over the years as the industry has evolved, but the mission remains the same. “Our mission is YOU … our neighbors and community,” Chapman said. “To be your health choice to shop, learn, and live life. We have also grown along with the industry to five stores today in Illinois and Indiana.”

Terry Naturally Health Food Store, Wisconsin

With two locations in Wisconsin—Green Bay and Suamico—the first thing you’ll notice about Terry Naturally is its amazing sales team, according to Debra Lemerond, store owner. As the stores’ website states, “Reach out to any associate to provide recommendations and answer your health questions to the best of their ability. In our store, you will discover a full range of Terry Naturally brand supplements, including the award-winning CURAMIN for pain relief, plus other trusted brands we bring to you.”

The store carries natural beauty products, organic EcoCert-certified essential oils, pet supplies, and cleaning supplies for your home. Be sure to peruse our organic and natural grocery section that includes local produce, cheeses, breads, bulk olive oils, as well as grind-your-own coffees, peanut and almond butters. The store also carries a wide variety of gluten-free food products that are clearly labeled for customers’ ease of access.

According to the store, “We believe in creating a relationship with every customer and truly listening to their needs in an environment that fosters a real appreciation of natural health. We know the road to healthy living involves a lot of changes, so please ask us any questions you may have. We are available to support your individual needs and guide you safely along your journey to healthy living.”

The Healthy Edge Retail Group

Akin’s, Chamberlin’s Natural Foods and Earth Origins Markets, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida.

While the Healthy Edge Retail Group (HERG) has only been around a few years, two of the three banners that operate under HERG, Akin’s Natural Foods and Chamberlin’s Natural Foods, have been open since 1935; the Earth Origins Market banner has been serving its communities since 1993.

Family-owned Akin’s and Chamberlin’s banners were folded into the HERG around 2000; the Earth Origins stores came on board in 2018, and the Akin’s and Chamberlin’s stores have operated continuously since the 1930s.

There are now a total of 15 retail stores: Akin’s has five locations in Oklahoma (four), Arkansas (one); Chamberlin’s Natural Foods has six locations in Central Florida; and Earth Origins Market has five locations primarily down the West Coast of Florida. The group’s support offices are located in Tampa and Orlando, FL and Tulsa, OK.

The stores have been a staple of the natural products industry even before “healthy foods” became a thing. “Our stores have always been true health food stores, where ingredients matter,” said Jeff Shackelford, vice president, purchasing. “Akin’s and Chamberlin’s sold health products before they were known as health products. Items such as flax, oat bran and other healthy foods were staples on the shelves well before they were known as being healthy. Over the years, we have adjusted to carry the latest and greatest healthy products. With two of our banners being rooted in more than 88 years of serving the communities, we have become known as the source for all things healthy.”

Mary Ann O’Dell, MS, RDN, marketing & education director, added, “In the late 1980s, we were the only game in town, so to speak, and we were 100 percent “health food” stores. Our core business is still supplements, but we learn every day how to become our customers’ go to place to facilitate a lifestyle choice … we want to be the whole solution, without selling our souls,” she said.

The Mustard Seed, Watertown, NY

A family owned and operated since 1997, The Mustard Seed Natural Market’s owner, Scott Skinner, first opened the business in a smaller location, but relocated the store to its current location to grow the business. Today, the Mustard Seed specializes in natural and organic foods, dietary supplements and natural body-care products. It also offers a large selection of gluten-free foods, vegan/vegetarian friendly meat and dairy substitutes, locally produced goods, locally-raised meat and dairy, as well as locally grown produce.

The supplement and HBA products sections make up 25 percent of the store, frozen items make up another 25 percent, while grocery items make up the other 50 percent. The store also has a café, which offers a breakfast menu, sandwiches, wraps, salads, fresh raw vegetable juices, grilled items as well as a gluten free and vegan options. “Customers really enjoy coming to our store to eat fresh, healthy food,” said Holly Prugar, the store’s supplement manager. The café is a big draw for our customers.”

Being able to educate and best serve customers is the goal at the Mustard Seed. “We differentiate ourselves from other stores and online retailers by providing our customers with expert knowledge and support,” Prugar noted. “We pride ourselves in having a knowledgeable, well-trained staff, friendly staff.

“Education is extremely important to our customers. Customers understand that they can trust the knowledge we are imparting,” Prugar continued. “There is so much misinformation on the internet. Customers come to the Mustard Seed to receive accurate information and first-hand knowledge. Our staff members shop our store and live the natural lifestyle. We have tried the majority of the items in our store. This allows us to provide honest and accurate information about our products.”

The Turnip Truck, Nashville, TN

Founded by John Dyke in 2001, the Turnip Truck is Nashville’s only full service, locally owned natural foods grocer. As the name implies, the store has farming roots, which run through every facet of operations.

According to the store website, “We believe in the simple, ancient and timeless power of ethically grown, locally harvested food to feed our communities.”

With three stores in the heart of Nashville, the Turnip Truck brings the seasonal bounty of area farms to its neighbors in the city. The shelves are stocked with the highest quality natural, local and organic foods available, according to the store.

In addition, the store is devoted to fostering the success of area farmers and producers, nurturing the future of its food supply.

Tulsi At the Market, Huntington, WV

Tulsi is owned and operated by two friends with strong connections in the health and wellness field. Erin Dalton is a yoga and mindfulness teacher; Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and health writer. Tulsi was started in 2018 to offer its community products as well as the knowledge to help us all live our best lives.

“Tulsi isn’t just a natural grocery store,” said Lemon, “we provide natural health and beauty aids, personally chosen nutritional supplements, quality tested CBD, fresh pressed house-made organic juices as well as organic, natural and allergen friendly foods.”

Lemon added, “We opened in 2018 to provide high-quality nutritional supplements, natural health and beauty items and organic and natural foods to our community of Huntington, WV. We wanted Tulsi to be a convenient shopping experience where our customers could easily shop without having to worry about quality concerns. We uphold strict quality requirements for the brands we work with and the products we carry. We also made it our goal to provide education to our community through our knowledgeable staff and from experts in our industry.”

Westerly Natural Market, New York, NY

The largest natural food store in New York City, Westerly Natural Market first opened in 1966 and in the heart of Midtown, and offers dietary supplements, fresh organic produce, local natural and organic foods, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and poultry, as well as environmentally friendly and cruelty-free natural skin care. For those looking for fresh, ready-made products Westerly has an organic juice bar serving fresh-to-order raw vegetable and fruit juices, all natural protein shakes, smoothies and acai bowls. The store’s hot soup bar serves 15 varieties of all natural soups. Plus, it offers hot bone broth to-go and fresh kombucha on tap.

On Feb. 27, 2011 a fire broke out in the building, and while there was little fire damage, the entire store suffered smoke damage. Repairs were made and the store was able to reopen in July of the same year.

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market opened in 1980 in Austin, TX with a staff of 19 people. Founded by John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy, owners of Safer Way Natural Foods, and Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, owners of Clarksville Natural Grocery, Whole Foods expanded to Houston and Dallas in 1984, opened a store in New Orleans, LA in 1988 and another in Palo Alto, CA in 1989.

As the Whole Foods continued to open brand new stores throughout the 1990s, the company also expanded by acquiring other natural food chains including Wellspring Grocery of North Carolina, Bread & Circus (Massachusetts and Rhode Island), Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods Markets (Los Angeles, CA), Bread of Life (Northern California), Fresh Fields Markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Florida Bread of Life stores, Detroit, MI area Merchant of Vino stores, and Nature’s Heartland of Boston, MA.

Today, Whole Foods has more than 500 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon in August 2017 for $13.7 billion.

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