BALTIMORE — While customers expect more from employees trained in organic and natural foods and health and beauty care products, employees generally have more to learn about the HBC section, and training should be altered accordingly, Shannon Szymkowiak, marketing and member services manger at Whole Food Co-Op in Duluth, Minn., told SN after conducting a workshop called “Organic Retailer Training” at the Natural Products Expo East, here, yesterday. The Expo is being held through Saturday. “Your collective knowledge of food is something you’ve grown up with your entire life. Supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathics, flower essences — those are things that most people aren’t inherently raised with. So you don’t have that history of knowledge. You don’t even have a base of knowledge,” she said. The solution is having a specific training session for employees covering each area of the store, including HBC. Whole Food Co-Op’s HBC program includes information on each brand carried and ingredients used, as well as delivery vehicles like, “capsules and tinctures,” she explained. Whole Food C-Op’s employees were so excited about HBC after training that many approached the merchandise manager and asked to be assigned a few hours per week working in that section of the store. “We now have a pool of employees specializing in HBC,” Szymkowiak said.
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