by Megan Waldrep
First published in the Trade Secrets column in the Coastal View News, February 2019
We’ve grocery shopped most of our lives but did you ever stop to wonder what makes a grocery store successful? Our next feature is a business you may know well. So well, in fact, you might already have a hole-punched smoothie card tucked in your wallet. We’re talking about Pacific Health Foods, our natural food store on Linden Avenue that seems equal parts a community meeting spot as it does grocery store.
Pacific Health Foods is a third-generation Carpinterian owned business that opened its doors in 1991. Originally owned by the current owner Nathan Noll’s grandparents, Nathan worked on and off at the shop during his younger years and while attending college for a degree in nutrition. But five years ago, Nathan and his wife Whitney took over and have since added their own touch while getting by with a little help from their friends a.k.a locals like you. “I believe our success is because we focus on the local community and we listen to our customers,” Nathan says. “A good amount of the products we carry are directly from customer requests, which isn’t the case in big box stores.” When asked how his store compares to other grocers out there, he notes that Pacific Health Foods is the organic alternative to big chain grocery stores. “We pride ourselves in selling only natural and organic products,” he says. At any time during store hours, you may find customers taking in the downtown scene from outdoor dining tables while enjoying freshly made organic smoothies, açai bowls, sandwiches, juices and soups purchased from the food bar located in the back of the shop.
The best business advice he’s received? Keep the store relevant. “I was told to keep updating the store and keep up with all the new trends,” Nathan says. “Because when you’re stuck doing the same old thing, you are no longer relevant and can get left in the dust, which I find is very true.” This was seen during a major renovation that took place a few years ago, resulting in a new refrigeration system that lines a side wall, the bar seating area located inside the front window, a new paint job for the entire store as well as newly painted menus for the food bar.
It’s also nice to know that our natural food store tries to source locally-made products from Carpinteria, which can make for some unique gift ideas for family and friends. Expectant mothers can be included on your list as well since an assortment of organic babywear is available in soft muted colors and fabric, perfect for snuggling a little one. This might come in handy for Nathan and his wife as they expect their second child in March, a little brother for their daughter Grace who is almost two.
Another service that makes Pacific Health Foods stand out is its personable staff. Employees are well-informed, which means you can come here if you have questions, are looking for advice on a wide variety of products or, as Nathan says, to find help and comfort when needed. “I believe our knowledgeable staff is what sets us apart from other natural grocers. We always have someone on hand who can answer questions and help the customers with whatever they may need.”
The most unique product they carry, Nathan says, are Hemp CBD products that range from drinks, chocolates, tinctures, and topical treatment. Though the verdict is still out, customers are reporting that the hemp-based products work well to relieve pain, stress, and help with a good night’s sleep.
When it comes to trade secrets, Nathan keeps it simple. “Just listen to your customers and the community and build your business around them if you want to be successful.” He also makes sure to note that taking school and work more seriously will bring you the success you crave. With a growing family and desire to serve the community, it seems that Pacific Health Foods will continue to be a go-to shopping experience for Carpinterians for years to come.