Health food store getting through tough economic times - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Health food store getting through tough economic times

Susan Miyachi Susan Miyachi

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - They're Hawaii's only all-vegetarian food store chain, dedicated to improving the health of island communities.

During these times of economic uncertainty, Down to Earth Natural Food Store is doing its best to continue offering a healthy alternative.

With the economy in a downturn, and food prices rising, family budgets are being challenged throughout Hawaii. But Down to Earth Natural Foods' loyal customers along with their support of local farmers give them an edge in surviving these tough times.

Numbers might be lower than last year but, Down to Earth Natural Foods remains a profitable company inspire of the bad economy.

"We're doing well. In times like this, to be profitable is a good thing. To be a little below last year, well that's to be expected," says Mark Fergusson C.E.O. of Down to Earth Natural Foods.

Many long time customers still come to the natural food store but spend less money, and limit the number of times they shop. Others refuse to sacrifice a healthy lifestyle to save a few dollars.

"I save a good 40% by not coming here as often," says customer Kelly Foutz.

"I feel that getting fresh organic produce is a basic necessity something I can't cut out," says customer Susan Miyachi.

Now more than ever, it's a time when good customer service is key for many businesses to survive.

Keeping vendors is also important. Each year Down to Earth buys about 2 and a half million dollars in products from 400 local vendors.

"We're very in touch with what our customers want, we support a lot of local growers, local farmers. We basically listen to our customers and give them what they want," says Mark Fergusson.

While food sales from the vegetarian deli and basic groceries move from the shelves, vitamins sales have been on the decline.

"People are looking at, o.k. Do I really need to buy vitamins this time, which is sad people are cutting back on things that are good for their health."

Down to Earth Natural Foods is one local business keeping its head above water.

There are 5 Down to Earth Natural, 3 on Oahu. The two stores on Maui are struggling a little bit more because of the decline in visitors to the Valley Isle.

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