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What would you do if yours disappeared?

Your favorite store, that is. The economy is tough, and there are a number of empty buildings around that used to be stores. I learned a valuable lesson once when one of my very favorite stores went out of business. It was a charming little store that sold hand-dyed fibers for spinning and unique yarns for weaving. As a spinner and a weaver, I loved to visit there and discover new and exciting products to work with. It was kind of a long drive. I lived in Huber Heights, and the store was in Centerville, so I didn’t make the half-hour drive every week. One day when I visited, there were signs up everywhere that the store was closing. I was mortified. I asked the store owner why she was closing, and she said just four words: “the little brown truck.” Customers were buying from online stores, and that had cut into her business so much that she couldn’t keep the store open any longer. That was the last time I took a local business for granted. That was probably 30 years ago, and I still occasionally think about that store and how much I enjoyed shopping there—not only for the interesting wares but also for the experience, since it was such a pleasant place to visit.

That experience has prompted me through the years to make a stronger effort to support the local stores I really appreciate shopping in. When I visit a store I really like, I ask myself, “What would you do if this store disappeared?” My local health food store, Nutra Foods Huber Heights, is one of those stores that mean a lot to me. There have been several times that I needed something from there in an emergency, and I was so glad the store was there and they had what I needed in stock. In one such emergency several years ago, I suddenly had trouble breathing, and my tongue swelled up. I felt my throat closing, and it was terrifying. My dog had been badly injured, and I couldn’t leave her to go seek medical help, so I called the squad. When they arrived a few minutes later, I found that they could not do much without taking me to the hospital. So here’s what I did: I called a neighbor to go to Nutra Foods and buy me some quercetin, a natural antihistamine. I took two of those, and my breathing eased quickly and my throat relaxed. It turned out that the whole episode had been due to a faulty vacuum cleaner that was leaving behind too much dust. I replaced the vacuum with one that had a HEPA filter and never had that problem again. I also added quercetin to my daily regimen of supplements. Still, what would I have done if I’d had to wait several days for an online order of quercetin to arrive?

Then there have been all the times I’ve visited Nutra Foods and just enjoyed being there. The ladies who work there are very kind and great to talk to, and it’s just fun to look around and see what’s new. I was there recently with a leg injury that made it hard to keep my balance, and I inadvertently knocked over a display. They were really gracious about it, which made me feel a tiny bit better about being so clumsy, and not afraid to return. I’ve discovered some of my favorite products just looking to see what’s there. When I’ve needed an ingredient that the grocery store doesn’t carry, I’ve usually found it at Nutra. Nutra is generally well stocked, and they get in new items often, so it’s worthwhile to stop by and see the new ones. And there are usually samples of new products at the checkout or slips to fill out for a drawing to win a prize. And unlike with most of the contests I’ve entered in my life, I actually won a gift certificate at Nutra once; I was thrilled! Nutra sends out a 20% off postcard every quarter that allows you to take 20% off any one regular-priced item, and now there’s also an e-newsletter that occasionally includes a coupon. These coupons are like found money, and there is always something useful or enjoyable that I can use them on.

I make a conscious effort to support that store. I often make a point of buying things there that I could buy at the grocery or online, because I want it to remain a part of my life. I look for products at Nutra first before buying them elsewhere. Some of my favorite Barlean’s products are on sale year round at Nutra, because they’re so popular that the store can afford to sell them at a lower price. And Nutra gives a 10% discount on all regular-price items if you have a Golden Buckeye card. Good deals abound.

Nutra Foods is a thriving store for a reason. It’s a terrific place to shop. Nutra is a neighborhood treasure, and I do my part to ensure that it won't disappear someday because of a little brown truck.

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