The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

whole food store help

LT72884's picture

whole food store help

I have a firend who is trying to start a food store that will carry spices,teas and natural foods.

It will be in a small farm city (19,000 people as of 2000 census)

I am curious as to what you guys would expect to be in a whole foods store. As of right now, i dont think meats are there. not enough people and its the older generation. What i mean by that is, simplicity. My grandpa is very simple. doesnt like all this "hippie" stuff that we call all natural food. Walmart is down the road, thats gonna be a issue possibly for the store.

Im just trying to help him succeed.

So, if you saw a new natural food store in town, what would you want to be in there?

thanks guys. I appreciate the help. i figured i would post here because you all are pros at cookin and what not. plus the forums are always active!



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

A natural food store may sound appealing but your acquaintance should look into what WalMart is offering. Do they have a grocery store side to their business? They are offering a limited amount of organic foods but what they do sell is what their marketing dept says is what people buy. WalMart may be the epitomy of voracious capitalism but they know what they're doing and they play to win. If there isn't a local college, it could take a long time to win over the local population because word of mouth buzz is needed for building traffic.

Unless there is something unique and highly desirable to a reasonably large number of people that your friend can offer, he or she will fight an uphill battle. Small businesses have a large failure rate in their first year. Should your friend be determined to open a natural foods store, you should encourage him to find a location with better opportunities for success.


clazar123's picture

S/he needs to know the demographics of that 19,000 people. Number of people in each age range,income level,owners vs renters,unemployed vs employed, # of kids per household,ethnic/cultural breakdown,etc

If the store is in an area of unemplyed Russian immigrants renting their housing (hypothetical but possible)-that gives the store owner a lot of info on what would be popular items for his customer base or even if h/she should open a store in the area.

S/he should talk top the local Chamber of Commerce, also, and see what the community needs and business experiences are. If the community is small enough and your friend is an "outsider", then there will be other issues to evercome.

Walmart is an active adversary-they may pose a real problem for a competing business. Your friend needs to plan well.

Always offer coupons to get the customers into the store. Always! Word of mouth is the best advertising and coupons are the easiest way to get them in the store.

Good Luck!

Home Baker's picture
Home Baker

I get product samples from a friend who works the natural foods division at the Kroger Company's corporate headquarters. The ones I've found most useful are organic 100% whole grain cereals. One cereal that worked very well was made of nothing more than cracked rye, wheat and flax seeds. Another cereal I still use is flaked 100% organic whole flax, corn, quinoa and amaranth. I've gotten and used whole grain chia in breads. I use a sample box of 100% organic ginger herbal tea in my breads and another sample box of "gourmet" naturally flavored instant coffee to perk up chocolate cakes, icings and candies. Again, all that came from Kroger corporate HQ and can be found on the shelves of various Kroger stores around the U.S.

Even though a new Kroger flagship store with an enormous section of organic and natural foods opened recently near my house, once every month or two I drive nearly an hour away to a huge independently owned food emporium. I buy more exotic and hard to find ingredients there: bags of Laxmi brand Indian spices; five pound bags of short patent flour and organic whole rye flours; bean and rice flours in one or two pound bags; organic barley malt syrup, liquid soy lecithin; whole roasted malts and citric acid powder from the home brewer's section.

When the the independent food emporium opened thirty or forty years ago it was waaaay out in the country but on the way to what was at the time the region's largest GM dealership. The owner bought a parcel of road frontage property and sold from basically a little shack but he always carried the most complete selection of each product line. Over time he added and added and added. Now, with so many GM dealerships closing, he has the biggest and best food retailer in a region filled with big food retailers. He started by retailing fresh produce and he did it better than anyone even knew it could be done. I'd guess the same could be done these days by starting with a spice emporium.

Crider's picture

There's a distributor, Azure Standard, which is located in Oregon but delivers to Utah. Go there and open an account (you don't have to buy anything) to get an idea of the prices. Everything they sell is listed online. They have just about everything I see in health food stores.

In addition, make sure the store offers local eggs and produce. You can even reach out to the customers in the summer to sell their excess garden produce. That will beat Wally*World hands down.

Stock and sell a high-quality brand of supplements. It seems vitamins & such are a large source of income for health food stores.

Since you're in Utah, there's likely high demand for bulk items, though you may want to check to see if there is already a Mormon cannery nearby.


LT72884's picture

Ill check to see if there is a cannery. im thinking there is. Maybe she can sell some of the stuff there...The LDS church has there farms in her city. Which is nice. We go there alot to help pick the produce to give to the needy families who need it. Not sure if you are familular with utah but the city is brigham city..


she appreciates all the input for this. Its her friend that is trying to open the store so i said i would try and help. Last week i told her she needed to talk to the city and find out the age groups of the population.

hanseata's picture

in addition to what others mentioned already - target customers, competition - I can give you an example from my neighborhood. I live in Bar Harbor, a quaint little town next to Acadia National Park. We have a smaller year round population ranging from wealthy retirees to lobstermen, and small business and restaurant owners that do not close during winter.

We also have the Jackson Laboratories, a key contributor to our local economy. During summer there are lots of tourists and about 100 cruise ships descending on the town. Accordingly we have the structures to house and feed them, including several high end restaurants.

Bar Harbor has a supermarket with a good section of organic food, and a natural food store right across (where I sell my breads). An good indicator for the kind of clientele that will be interested in organic, local foods is our movie theater - it shows mostly independent, foreign language and other not mainstream films.

Our natural food store sells a lot of local products, has a substantial selection of natural remedies and cosmetics, herbs and tea in bulk (I love that), natural detergents and cleaning supplies, organic baking ingredients and lots of other things. They also have a few tables, selling smoothies, salads and pastries.

I had long conversations with the one of the owners. She told me, she and her partner worked first several years as employees in other natural food stores, gaining the necessary experiences to open up an own business.

Good luck,