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For Customers, Total Care

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— October 13, 2017

For Customers, Total Care

  • Nutrition City carries only vitamins and other supplements since there’s a food co-op across the street. The store is well-placed in a district that also features a chiropractor, a natural pet food store and natural food restaurants.
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As online shopping grabs customers from brick-and-mortar shops, it’s personal attention and employees’ knowledge of products that keep people coming to stores such as Nutrition City in Minneapolis. “Everyone who works here has at least 15 years’ experience in the business,” says owner Scott Miller. “If you come in and say, ‘I’m vegan, and I need something with B12 in methylcobalamin, plus added methyl folate,’ we can offer you a bunch of choices right away.”

Nutrition City carries only vitamins and other supplements since there’s a food co-op across the street. The store is well-placed in a district that also features a chiropractor, a natural pet food store and natural food restaurants. “People who are into health and wellness come to this area and can do all their shopping at one time,” Miller says.

Most customers are 45 and older. They are “looking for longevity and well-being, staying physically active, and are focused on the high quality of life.”

The store was oriented towards sports nutrition when Miller started working there part-time in 1999 while going to school for nutrition and dietetics. Because Miller made operations more efficient, he gained more responsibility on the job, until he took ownership of the store in 2008. When online sales gobbled up much of the sports nutrition market, Nutrition City shifted in 2005 towards more general supplementation, carrying vitamins, minerals, and herbs.

Miller’s philosophy of wellness revolves around preventive care. “What you put into your body is important,” he said. “As food quality has depreciated, supplements bridge the gap between what we get in our food and what our bodies need.”

When customers ask for advice, he recommends five or six core supplements. At the top of the list is a green superfood. “It covers so many fundamental issues—digestion, detoxication, getting what you need from fruits and vegetables when people aren’t eating enough of them. I also recommend trace minerals, since we don’t have enough of those in our food. Then a whole-food multivitamin, omega fats, and nutritional oils. After that, each person has to assess their specific goals, and we can give advice on how to achieve them.”

In a store of 4,800 square feet, Miller carries a vast array of products. He has recently added 1,000 square feet of education and consultation space, with the goal of expanding into offering services. A personal trainer and wellness coach is already operating onsite, as well as a woman from the Dominican Republic who consults with Spanish-speaking clients. They will be joined by a doctor who can do bloodwork to offer nutritional analysis, determining through testing the optimal nutrients for an individual’s needs.

“People want to know what’s going on,” Miller says, “how their body is responding to the nutrition they’re putting in. There’s a frustration with medical services. I believe this industry will gradually evolve into one where you’ll have to have other revenue sources besides retail.”

Nutrition City emphasizes the personal touch. Employees get to know the customers since wages rise along with profits, and the store hasn’t had to hire anyone new in over a decade.

“You can help people more if you interact with your customers,” Miller says. “People come in and see my six-month-old son. It’s a small community, even though we’re in a metropolis of three million. I believe 85% to 90% of our customers come back because they can tell we’re not just selling stuff; we’re figuring out how to help them, and they’re supporting our families. We’re taking care of each other.” For Customers, Total Care Nutrition City, Minneapolis, Minnesota DL.

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