Midwest Health Foods was built on people.
The store has been in Spencer for over 50 years, most of those on or near Grand Avenue.
After two moves this year, Midwest Health Foods’s customers still find the store, which is now located at 512 Grand Avenue Suite 4.
“I have wonderful people,” owner Janice Larson said of her customers. “Faithful, wonderful people who have stayed true to the product. They wouldn’t switch.”
Listening to customers, health foods providers
Midwest Health Foods carries a large variety of carefully selected vitamins, oils, foods and other items. Larson is discerning about what she sells in the store.
“I listen to companies,” Larson said. “How many years they’ve been in business, if they are with the moms and pops stores and have true, whole food vitamins. Not chemically made, not synthetically made.”
Though she’s owned Midwest Health Foods for 14 years – after having been an employee and a customer before that – Larson’s seen the same products remain her best sellers: whole food vitamins and fish oil.
“Those are the ones that they stick to and stay with,” Larson said. “Then they go to the probiotics. And now the essential oils are a big thing.”
The essential oils and CBD oil are examples of what’s popular now. As in so many other businesses, it’s important for Larson to make sure she’s updated on new, popular products.
Larson said listening to what customers want is important to staying in business, especially as a small store.
Larson always refers to her customers as her “people.” She pointed out that keeping people happy is key for any small business sticking around.
“If we get what our people want, they stick and stay,” she said. “They know what they’re looking for. Just try to accommodate because they’re the most important thing. If we get what they want, they’ll be there for you.”
Larson’s created a strong group of loyal customers, who she credits with helping her compete with larger businesses.
“It’s the faithful people,” Larson said. “Faithful people to the business. Because big business can be your enemy. Everybody tries to take anything you have. They don’t care who they run over. They’re going to sell it. If they think they can run you over, they’ll sell it. But it just boils down to the faithful people who want the health foods store to stay in town because they know the authenticity of the products.”
Bonding with customers
Over the years, Larson has developed a strong bond with the people who come to Midwest Health Foods.
“I love my people, in all honesty, like they were my real family,” Larson said. “Most all of them, when you’ve been there as many years as I’ve been in this store, they become very personal to you. I would be lost without them – really. They’re my friends. They’re my family.”
She has plenty of regulars who come in week after week to stock up on items and catch up with Larson.
“You can count it like a clock,” Larson said. “They’re going to come in, get their refill. Same product, pretty much, or maybe add a new one.”
It’s safe to say the people are Larson’s favorite part of running a business in Spencer.
“God put me where I am,” she said. “I believe I’m where God wants me to be. And the people assure me of that. They really do.”
Feature photo: Midwest Health Foods owner Janice Larson (left) and Cheree Schurz, one of Larson’s loyal customers.