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Independent natural retailers urged to tell their story

Independent natural food retailers concerned about growing competition form larger natural chains and supermarkets hopping on the health and wellness bandwagon have the knowledge and tools to fight back - but not always the will, a speaker at Natural Products Expo East said in a session Saturday.


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“We’re often too shy to toot our own horns,” Corinne Shindelar, CEO of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association said in a session called “How to Make the Most of Your Competition.”

Shindelar pointed out that trends sparking the growth of independent retailer’s competition are especially suited to independent strengths -- for example, knowledgeable service and selection and a traditional emphasis on local. “This is what we’re good at,” she said, “but do we know how to market this space well?”

Read more: SN's coverage of Natural Products Expo West

She encouraged retailers to look at their stores with a critical eye, and be open with employees as to their strengths and weaknesses and finacials. She said independent stores can benefit by fighting the competition by welcoming it -- noting that a proliferation of competitors in the natural space is validation of their work.

Tactically, independents should be prepared to be more aggressive on prices where necessary -- even if it a means a loss on a promotion -- and be mindful of stocking items, such as natural diapers, even when they cannot be as competitive on price as players like Internet sellers, because they help to establish an identity.

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