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Steady Growth Based on Solid Value

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— April 25, 2019

Steady Growth Based on Solid Value

  • The philosophy of Family Health Foods in Arthur, Illinois, is to sell high-quality food and supplements at reasonable prices and get the products out to as many people as possible.
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The philosophy of Family Health Foods in Arthur, Illinois, is to sell high-quality food and supplements at reasonable prices and get the products out to as many people as possible. “It’s worked for us,” says Adlai Helmuth, whose wife, Edna, started the business in the basement of their home in 1973. Back then, the store consisted of an eight-foot shelf that held only a few items, such as turbinado sugar, blackstrap molasses, and Vege-Sal, a vegetable mineral salt seasoning. As people asked for more products, the offerings gradually expanded. Twenty-four years ago, the Helmuths set up shop in a storefront.

In 2007, Family Health Foods moved to its current location, one mile south of Arthur. They now have a selling area of 6,800 square feet, a nine-door cooler, a six-door freezer, and innovative DayStar skylights that amplify sunlight brought indoors by means of highly reflective surfaces, reducing the need for electricity. The store carries a wide variety of products, with an emphasis on local fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, milk, and cheeses. Artisanal meats include locally grown and processed chicken, which is, as Helmuth remarks, “not shot up with chemicals.”

The Helmuths are part of an Amish community of about 4,500 people living in the countryside surrounding the village of Arthur, which has 2,300 residents. However, the store’s customer base is much wider because of the great deals they offer.

“We do not sell at suggested retail prices,” Helmuth explains. “We’re 40 miles south of Champaign, and we get customers from Springfield, Terre Haute, from a big area. People drive 20, 30, even 100 miles because they can buy things here at a more reasonable price.” On the shelves are gluten-free bread, keto diet products, assorted packaged foods, and bulk foods, non-toxic soaps, and cleansers, first-aid supplies, and essential oils, among other items (along with Christian books and glassware). Family Health is willing to special-order items upon request. The store also carries a full complement of herbs, vitamins and other supplements from over 200 suppliers. When customers ask for recommendations, they are usually hoping to address specific conditions. The staff of six full-time and five part-time employees helps select the appropriate remedy, whether it’s to boost the immune system or deal with a sore throat. “Elderberry is big right now for colds and flu,” says Helmuth.

The store does not have a website, but a Facebook page allows customers to post comments and reviews. One woman noted that she shops at the store twice a month, writing, “They have many items you can’t find in other health food stores.”

A resident of Springfield, 70 miles away, commented, “I spent the day in Arthur, Illinois, buying my non-GMO food for the month.”

“People who come here are looking for something to improve their health,” says Helmuth. “They are looking for quality at a good price.” It’s a formula that has been successful. Back when the store was just a shelf in the basement, maybe two customers a day would stop by. Now, Family Health regularly sees 150 to 300 customers a day.

“People are becoming more aware of what’s in the food they eat. They’re turning more to natural and organic foods, pesticide- and preservative-free,” explains Helmuth. “They’re more interested in taking care of their health. I think that trend will continue to increase.”

As for how he maintains his own health, Helmuth says, “By the blessing of the Lord. I take a lot of supplements, but the honor goes to the Lord.” Steady Growth Based on Solid Value Family Health Foods, Arthur, Illinois D.

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