The Retail industry is a bit more challenging than one might expect. We recently had the question come in, asking ‘why don’t you sell in retail or health food stores? So I thought, why explain…
When I say ‘retail’ I mean health food stores. The fact is, we were in retail stores, 26 of them across Canada. And to be honest it was misery.
The only way I could think to expand in retail was to cold call, and I absolutely hated every second of it. Retail managers would rarely answer, they say they’d call back but never would. So I’d try over and over again to reach them, and I felt that I called so many times to reach them they were mostly annoyed when I got them on the phone.
Once you actually got in a retail store that’s when the real work began. They required staff training and their turnover is so frequent you’d have to train different staff every couple weeks – and these were people hardly interested in your products. They were standing there ‘listening’ because the boss told them to.
They also wanted free samples given to their staff. Samples may not seem like much but when you have a very limited budget, everything costs a lot.
Retail stores also required demo’s. It was rare I could find someone to do the demo’s in an area (or could afford to pay them) so I did them myself or Dorothy did (in the evening after a full day of teaching or on the weekend).
So picture a day like this. I wake up before the sun, head to the gym for a couple personal training sessions, then I’d drive to Jasper (from Olds) 3 or so hours for a staff training (or to Medicine Hat for 4 hours) and demo (which was about 3-4 hrs) – which means I’d stand in front of people and give out samples hoping they’d buy our product (which was CTP at the time).
After that I’d pack up, drive back 3-4 hours, by this time time it was usually late, and I got back just in time to run fitness classes or finish the day with 2-3 personal training clients.
Then on the weekends we’d often do trade shows (or demo’s) for retail stores or individual markets. As you can tell this wasn’t an idea lifestyle.
Then of course retail stores wanted kick backs. I remember this like it was yesterday….
A Vega rep drove up in a brand new Mercedes SUV to a health food store that I was demoing at. He walked in like a celebrity. All the staff greeted him, as he handed out free samples (and what I later found out was also gift cards to local restaurants).
He brought in case after case of product they ordered, and promptly put them front and centre in the middle of the store where you couldn’t miss them.
Why is this significant? Because if there is tons of product in a store people automatically assume that people are buying it and that it’s a good product.
Compare that to the min order they’d purchase from us, and in many cases they’d put us way at the bottom or a shelf or way at the top where people rarely look.
Fast forward to exhaustion, frustration and feeling more lost than ever after grinding our way into 26 retail stores and then not behind able to manage them.
The cost was too much to dive there, I didn’t have the time to spend 8 hrs hoping for 3 product sales (I’d lose that much in gas) and in many cases the retail stores wanted a ‘net 30 terms’ which means they didn’t have to pay you for 30 days.
After 30 days I’d start my ‘cold calling’ all over again trying to get them to pay me so I could pay my own bills.
So that’s the longer story of why we don’t search for retail stores anymore. We actually recently had 3 retail stores come to us. They all called and sent emails saying they’d like more details about our product in hopes to carry it.
Foolishly I was sucked back in by the excitement of the opportunity to get in front of another audience. So what happened? I responded with details, links, and paperwork and the response was the same as before, none.
I called a couple times and emailed a couple times before I had to shake myself out of old habits realizing that’s not the direction we want to go.
And don’t get me wrong, we do sell our products in a couple retail stores but they aren’t conventional health food stores and I have more a personal relationship with the owner who also manages the facility.
This is why we choose to go with independent distributors. We have a growing community of real people who are great to work with, enjoy our products, know how to use them and know how to share information about them.
So now you know why we don’t actively look for more retail locations to sell in.
We’re always looking for new team members so if you love our products and are interested in something on the side, we’d love to talk!