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Is Wellness Maturing?

Nothing lasts forever, right? Not even "hot new" trends. That's what former natural food retailer and consultant Jay Jacobowitz is saying, in urging operators to keep a close on on how categories develop and fold out.

For example, in a seminar today on store layout, Jacobowitz, now president of this own firm, Retail Insights, Brattleboro, Vt., said that manufacturers understand that "we are entering a mature phase in our business," and use change to artificially keep things fresh. One look at all the line extensions and spin-offs of core products, and you get an idea of what he's talking about. "We cannot be stupid" in setting our displays, he said.

In one retail-specific example, Jacobowitz talked about Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Market, a chain of 19 stores averaging 28,000 square feet each. The retailer, who presented at Expo East earlier in the day, talked about making the bold decision to redo its vitamin/supplements/HBC section. Initially taking a good-size loss, the retailer's new set-up has comp sales of 19% year-over-year.

"Don't allow yourself to die a death by a thousand cuts," said Jacobowitz. "Fifty percent off, then 75%, then 90%. People didn't want it when it was regular price, or half price. Quickly make the change, take the short-term loss and look ahead." This is what Sunflower did, and it was a successful way to keep health and wellness fresh — and profitable.