Small Business Fund Nominee Stories & Voting
*Answers below are taken verbatim from entry.
Nutrition House is Canada's leading Natural Health Product franchise. It was founded in 1979 by the Dominguez family and began franchising in 1993. Today there are over 45 retail stores in shopping centres across Canada. We sell natural health supplements for both women and men such as vitamins, mineral supplements, herbal tinctures, sport nutrition products such as protein, BCAA's, Greens powders, skin care products, diffusers and essential oils, antioxidants, antivirals, antifungals, probiotics and some specialized food products. Many of our customers come to our stores looking for an alternative to pharmaceuticals. They express their frustration with various drug side effects, allergies or interactions with other medications due to medically prescibed drugs and are looking for natural alternatives to eliminate these negative outcomes. The majority of our customers are women who would like some control over their medical outcomes and health or those struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety or stress where there is little community support.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR STRATEGY THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC?
We have tried our best to remain in contact with our customers. Although our stores are both temporarily closed, our phone lines have been routed to a central line where we answer customer requests for products. Currently, we offer a delivery service or curbside pick up. We also send out reminder texts to our preferred customers (ONLY those customers who have been collecting loyalty points with us to be used towards a discount in the store). We offer Daily Health tips via email and Facebook to our Preferred Customers ONLY. These tips offer educational information on the benefits and possible interactions of the supplements that are sold in our stores. We are one of the few stores in Windsor providing a free delivery service to our customers (*due to the recent increase in gas prices, this will change shortly).
HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC & SHUTDOWN AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?
The forced shutdown of the malls by the mayor of Windsor has significantly reduced our revenue. Furthermore, the shutdown of the food courts has dramatically reduced foot traffic in the mall. It will take a very long time to recover from this loss of revenue.
The government offer to subsidize rent for malls has not been made available yet. This subsequent delay has put a lot of stress on both mall owners and tenants since the mall owners are NOT obliged to utilize the subsidy. This means that the malls are asking us to pay the FULL AMOUNT of RENT since we were forced to close by the city in mid-march and bear the added burden of providing gloves, masks, sanitizers etc for our staff without any clear guidelines as to how to operate under social distancing measures. This creates extra financial burdens and emotional stress as we are left to our own devices to "figure things out" and order PPE's that are already in short supply and delayed in shipping.
What we really need is the government to devise a plan for rental subsidy that will exceed 3 months and possibly extend for 9 months to a year until mall traffic returns to a healthy state and/or people feel confident and safe shopping in a public place. Otherwise, the 3 month subsidy is a shortlived "band aid solution" and will only serve to slow down the inevitable.... the end of the shopping mall experience. We need some help with our rent and we need our customers continued support!