This month Julie Goodwin celebrated 25 years since the opening of her first Natural Health store in Hertford, which was then followed by a second store in Welwyn Garden City.

GoodwinHaving originally started a small therapy centre in the town, Goodwin took over the health shop when the owner decided to retire and expanded the therapy rooms to six, locating them above the shop.

“When I started there were very few complementary therapy centres around, and the idea was to create a holistic centre where people could come for some great unbiased advice with the benefit of having a range of therapists available who would work together to cater for their health care needs,” says Goodwin.

Speaking about the beginning of the health store, she explains: “The shop used to have a home brew centre, we used to weigh our herbs, spices and yeast for customers and had a very busy take away service at lunchtime. We had a large section of gluten-free and speciality diet food which people used to come from miles around to stock up as it wasn’t readily available anywhere. Nothing was computerized, we had to manually create orders and we only got wholesaler and supplier orders once a week which made delivery day frantic!”

Goodwin has seen health stores become increasingly valued by consumers over the years. “We used to be thought of as very alternative and hippy, but we have become much more mainstream over the years and often get GPs recommending their patients to come in to stock up on supplements. We have a lot of loyal customers who have supported us throughout the years and an increasing number of younger shoppers, although we have lost a lot of people to Internet shopping. Many people come in who have read about certain supplements via social media or google and we do have a lot of ‘worried well’ customers who have overdone looking up various ailments and have self-diagnosed all sorts of diseases.”

the idea was to create a holistic centre where people could come for some great unbiased advice

Explaining how the stores have survived, she adds: “Being a small business we can adapt quickly to different trends and demands plus can spend time finding new products which are piquing interest. During the pandemic we did a lot of online selling but have cut this right back now as there isn’t the margin, and our strength is within the store and therapy rooms for one to one consultations and service.

“Next year we are aiming to do more instore events such as workshops, talks and so forth. We are also working more with the local community and businesses as I feel like there is a slow but steady trend for people to come back to the high street to interact with people and products – let’s hope I am correct on this!”

As for the product offer, Goodwin says that a lot of customers ask for things they have seen on social media or been recommended by influencers. “We still sell a lot of herbs and supplements. One area that is vastly growing is the medicinal mushrooms which we all absolutely love; I think a lot more ranges will appear over the coming months and the sector will continue to grow. Previously customers were wanting cod liver oil and glucosamine to help them with their aches and pains, now we are selling lots of collagen in all sorts of various formulations and turmeric.”

To celebrate the anniversary, the store had a special day, offering a 20% off to all customers. “It went really well. Lots of people just popped in to wish us well, and many of these were reminiscing about Natural Health and how we have helped them over the years. It was such a lovely day.”