July saw the unveiling of the newly extended 100% Health in Paignton which has now opened up all its three floors to house a health store, organic café and beauty and therapy centre.
Started by husband and wife team Mark and Heather Hamilton, the store moved location to a massive three-storey building in Paignton about three years ago. Mark says that the store’s growth has been an organic process: “We didn’t plan to get this big, it’s just developed. We were a little health store, so we thought how do we fill this space?”
Initially the top floor was left completely untouched, the middle floor had sports supplements and the bottom floor was the health store. “It was working amazingly until the government decided to slap VAT on sports supplements and the Internet boomed with very small-margin high-turnover websites. Our sports supplement sales dropped quite significantly virtually overnight so it was a real kick in the teeth.”
But Mark definitely isn’t one to accept defeat. “We are constantly trying to evolve and be proactive so we sat down, scratched our heads and went okay, well what do the customers want?”
After conducting a bit of in-store market research Hamilton sub-let some of the first floor to an independent organic cafe, The Green Room Organic Tea House, and on the remainder of the floor is a light and airy studio which hosts yoga and pilates classes as well as a room designed for seminars, workshops, talks and meetings.
“We rent that space out and also do communal projects there. For example if the local vegan society wants to do an evening we’ll give them the room for free because they’ve got to walk through our shop, up the stairs through our organic and very vegan-friendly café to where the meeting is.”
The top floor of the building now houses a therapy and beauty centre with qualified practitioners offering crystal healing therapies, acupuncture, massage, homeopathy and reflexology. There is also beauty salon, Freedom Beauty, where both men and women can spoil themselves with a range of treatments. “It’s been a nice development,” says Hamilton, “it’s not just one health shop any more but more of a kind of health and wellness emporium. It’s the sort of store you’d see in London rather than a small seaside resort.”
The ground floor still houses the health store, including a reduced sports section, which is what Hamilton wants to focus on: “We wanted to revert back to what we do brilliantly – running a health shop.”
Hamilton solidly believes in independents working together. “I think a lot of towns are dying. I’ve always been one for trying to work with people around you for mutual benefit. It works here; we say if you spend £10 in store we’ll buy you a coffee upstairs, and the queue has never been so busy, so the girls in the beauty salon said can you do that for us and we’ll give your customers a 10% discount on their first treatment. People are working together within the building which is how it should be and people are picking up on that kind of vibe. It’s like a health supermarket within a building.
“We’ve got notice boards up for anything that’s going on that’s community-based, concerning either good causes or health and wellness. We also push other therapy centres in the community. We absolutely want to coexist and spread the whole thing around. I’ve always said I want a shop that isn’t just one thing – a sports shop, a health shop, a food shop – I wanted it to all be one shop – that was always my vision and it’s come to fruition and works really well.”
Hamilton concludes: “I love this industry, I’ve always loved this industry and when I started I wanted to change the world. That’s my motto. That’s what drives me. I’ve got the best job in the world in terms of having the chance to help people and getting paid for it.”