The Chemainus Health Food Store’s 10th anniversary is just half the tale of the business connection and friendship between Lulu Vegh and Sherry Mattin.
“Sherry and I have known each other for about 20 years,” said Vegh, as the store gets ready to mark its landmark occasion next week.
They both previously worked at Wild Earth Organics, formerly in Duncan, and the Goat Shed Market on Highway 18. The Ladysmith Health Food Store owner hired both of them to work in Ladysmith, Mattin for 3 1/2 years and Vegh for five years, but Mattin ended up in Chemainus, where she lives, when an outlet of the store opened there.
One year later when the business in Chemainus was offered to them for purchase, they jumped at the chance. “We kind of hit the ground running,” recalled Vegh.
“There’s one wall of shelving in there that’s the same and everything else has changed.”
It’s been a wonderful and productive 10 years for the pair.
There were two connected storefront spaces at 9738 Willow St. when they bought the health food store and a third spot opened up and was renovated last May, giving them around 1,800 square feet of space.
“The opportunity was there so we thought we’d better do it,” said Vegh of the additional room.
Customers both local and out-of-town are continually discovering the shop and its large selection every day.
At the same time, there is a loyal clientele that makes the business so productive.
“Lots of regulars and we’re really thankful for that,” said Vegh.
They have two additional employees, Sonja Bland and Carmen Bowler, who’ve both been with them a year.
The anniversary will be celebrated Friday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. each day with demonstrations, giveaways, coffee and treats, samples, a storewide sale, draws for gift baskets and more.
“It’s also in appreciation to the people who have supported us throughout the 10 years,” added Vegh.
Vitamins, cosmetics and make-up, and health food items of all sorts make up the store’s selection, but “no garden hoses,” joked Vegh.
The additional room in the store makes it look very spacious and increased the variety into new areas.
“Produce was the big thing we added in - local, unsprayed when we can get it,” noted Vegh.
They also carry eco-fibre clothing now and have a proper changeroom within that section.
In addition, “we like to focus on Fair Trade,” stressed Vegh. “As much as we can, we source it to be Fair Trade. It just means people are paid fairly.”
All sorts of pamphlets are available for customers who want to read more on certain products and new magazines are coming in every month. Producers from nearby like Organic Fair chocolates and spices, the Tea Farm in Westholme and Denman Island Chocolates, among others, are well represented.
It’s all part of a commitment by Mattin and Vegh to cater to a wide variety of needs.
“In a small business in a small town, that’s what you need to go for, the people don’t get it in the big stores,” conceded Vegh.