Braintree health food store The Natural Way is moving to new premises on the town’s High Street later this month.
Speaking about the move, Richard Sambridge – co-owner and son of the store’s founder Ron who started the business 30 years ago this year – said it had been prompted by issues with “landlords and rent”.
However, the move has turned out to have a string of benefits, with the local council offering half-price rates as the business is moving into a shop which has stood empty for a year, as well as the new premises offering a larger square footage and lower rent.
“The High Street isn’t what it was, but now a lot of independent shops are starting to move in. There’s quite a revival of independents there, so we thought perhaps this is the time to try it, when we’re coming to the end of our lease and don’t want to get tied in again.”
So not wanting to risk a rolling lease like many other shops in their current street, Richard decided to take on what used to be a charity shop, and after a lot of work – including ripping up a false floor, repairing the original parquet flooring, and sorting out the electrics – the store will be ready to open on 20 October with the grand opening being held on 25 October.
“We’re going for a different concept,” explains Sambridge. “When you walk in the shop it’s very modern at the front with two Quest-sponsored pods and a consultation area with a sofa. Bioforce has sponsored shelving on the other side and then we have all the VMS and homoeopathic remedies and things like that. Towards the back there are three steps to the original parquet flooring in the area where the wholefoods will be, with wooden crates and baskets and chalk boards with offers to give a farm shop sort of feel.”
As well as providing two of its pods, Quest is supporting the store with bespoke offers, a nutritionist and advertising support as well as sponsoring a raffle for a trip to Dubai.
Sambridge says: “Once the consultation area it established customers will be able to search information about problems using an iPad loaded with the new Quest Health Library app. These pods themselves are quite modern and they glow blue when lit up so they’re quite eye-catching even from the outside of the shop. It should be good!”
The business will also benefit from the addition of a treatment room, which will be rented out by local therapists such as reflexologists, and Sambridge says that in future there may be scope for a small café offering.
The new premises also have a useful six-space car park at the back.
As for promoting the new store, Sambridge believes in being proactive. “A couple of shops up from us is a bus stop which gets very busy, but we need to get people past the bus stop so we’ve got a few ideas – we’re going to go leafleting and sampling at the bus stop – you’ve got a captive audience. Also we’re going to do a big of guerrilla marketing by sticking (removable) leaflet holders on to the bus stop itself!”