Nature’s Emporium

Poised for growth

Nature’s Emporium has laid the groundwork for growth. The Newmarket, Ont.-based grocer that specializes in supplements, gluten-free, and natural and organic food products has grown leaps and bounds since it opened in 1993.

In business now for nearly 20 years, Nature’s Emporium started as a small, 4,000 square foot location that retailed vitamin products and bulk food. A family-run operation, as it remains to this day, the initial expansion of Nature’s Emporium took place in 2002. Upgrading to 15,000 square feet, Nature’s Emporium beefed up its product selection to include new offerings, such as fresh produce, to its growing customer base.

“Everything became bigger and better,” Joe D’Addario, President of Nature’s Emporium, told The Canadian Business Journal. “When we expanded, our sales tripled as our customer base expanded. Our greatest growth has happened in the last two years, sales wise and expansion wise. More people are coming to our store as a more primary shopping destination.”

Continuous growth

The expansion continued in 2006, adding another 5,000 square feet, with additions to the supplement and vitamin department, something that has always served as the bread and butter of Nature’s Emporium. D’Addario commented, “It’s the cornerstone of our business; it’s what we were built on.”

As a result of this expansion, annual sales have increased by about 20 per cent year over year. Given this performance, it is no wonder that the company continued to pursue growth and expansion opportunities, in 2010, and presently. In 2010, Nature’s Emporium assumed a neighbouring property, an addition which pushed the store to its current size of 50,000 square feet, more than 10 times the size of its initial space.

“Now we have become more of an organic and natural supermarket where you can find everything from meat, to produce, to groceries, to health and beauty, to dairy, and everything is organic or natural,” D’Addario summarized. “We have a lot of gluten-free products, vegan products, vegetarian, and a raw food department as well.”

At Nature’s Emporium, shoppers ‘simplify their health’, and the store’s expansion has realized the growing demand for natural foods and the increasing number of customers shopping for organic products.

Moving forward, the expansion plans continue. Nature’s Emporium is poised for future growth as it believes it has the right model to allow for major, multi-location growth. D’Addario believes a regional expansion, with 10 to 15 stores added in the next five years, is quite plausible, while the company is also investigating national expansion opportunities.

“We are looking at more locations. Right now we are trying to get the right management on board and improve all of our systems to put in place. Within the next year or so we plan on opening at least one more store,” D’Addario said. “We have been in the business a long time, it is not an overnight success, but we have grown organically through the years, and we have done it with our own cash flow.”

Store tours

Specializing in natural and organic products, Nature’s Emporium represents a new, growing segment of the food and grocery industry. Its appeal attracts buyers, both seasoned and new, an area where the company feels it can assist new customers in acclimatizing to the store and its offerings.

“People sometimes are overwhelmed because they don’t recognize a lot of traditional products, they don’t know where to start,” D’Addario explained. To combat this, Nature’s Emporium offers store tours, conducting about 20 to 30 tours each week, led by a store ambassador who introduces new customers to the different products offered at Nature’s Emporium, aimed at health needs and lifestyle changes.

But perhaps what most separates Nature’s Emporium from other grocers is its well educated, product knowledgeable staff. The team at Nature’s Emporium “make the store”, living the natural and organic lifestyle and sharing this knowledge of natural foods, supplements, and vitamins.

“We are in the food business but we are also in the education business,” D’Addario concluded. “Our staff is trained to teach and I think that is where we stand out the most.”