TUPELO • As a full-line well being meals retailer, Whole Family Nutrition and Market has been a mecca for 30 years for these looking for pure merchandise.
In a nutshell, “We’re a household owned, impartial, pure well being meals retailer with nutritional vitamins, dietary supplements, sports activities vitamin and really good meals market,” mentioned Warren Barbieri, who, together with his spouse Michelle, acquired the enterprise from his mom in 2005.
Whole Family began as a small store hooked up to a fitness center in Pontotoc in 1991. Warren had a background within the pure meals enterprise and within the meals business, and Michelle is a licensed well being coach. They mixed their abilities to run the Pontotoc retailer and later open a location in Tupelo.
“We went by way of a collection of strikes in Pontotoc for greater area till our final transfer to the place we are actually,” Warren mentioned.
The Barbieris opened a Tupelo location on McCullough Boulevard a couple of years later.
“We had quite a lot of prospects who came to visit from Tupelo and buying with us,” Warren mentioned. “We opened up in January of 2012, so we’re developing on our tenth anniversary this January.”
But it didn’t take lengthy to outgrow the McCullough location, and in 2016, the shop opened in a brand new and bigger constructing. The twister of 2014 severely broken what was a bingo enterprise at North Green and North Gloster streets, and when the ability was rebuilt, the bingo enterprise had moved, and Planet Fitness grew to become the anchor tenant.
“V.M. Cleveland, who owned the constructing, some area obtainable subsequent to it,” Warren mentioned. “He’s a buyer of ours, and we talked about it, after which we had been capable of transfer into it in 2016. It’s been a superb factor. It’s given us the chance to develop and add extra merchandise and classes. We’re most likely thrice bigger than what we had been on McCullough.”
The most vital have an effect on of transferring to a bigger area was permitting the Barbieris so as to add coolers and freezers, which has allowed them to supply one of many largest natural meals choices on this a part of the state.
Getting by way of the pandemic
Like many small companies, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic was a problem.
While Whole Family Nutrition and Market was deemed an important enterprise, permitting it to remain open whilst different companies needed to shut, holding a cautious stability of serving the general public and holding everybody wholesome was removed from straightforward.
“It took the neighborhood to assist us get by way of it,” Warren mentioned. “We recognize the purchasers who supported us as a result of we needed to put measures in place to guard us.”
The Barbieris adopted native, state and federal tips on masking and social distancing. Most prospects complied, though some didn’t. The retailer did lose a couple of prospects who refused or declined to comply with them.
“We needed to accommodate everyone as greatest we might,” Michelle mentioned. “We adopted the CDC tips as a result of was felt it was the fitting factor to do, and we had individuals who appreciated it. We have prospects with life-threatening diseases they usually’re coming in to seek out vitamin to assist them … they felt protected and guarded. We had some points with individuals who didn’t imagine in sporting masks, and we tried to grasp their viewpoint, nevertheless it made it tough to assist those that wanted assist typically as we needed to take care of a number of the conversations concerning the masks. But we made it by way of and I needed to leap up and down.”
The retailer by no means closed fully, nevertheless it did prohibit entry for a couple of weeks doing solely curbside enterprise through the peak of the pandemic.
“I’ve by no means labored more durable in my life,” Warren mentioned, describing the lengthy days of working and filling orders on the Tupelo retailer then going to Pontotoc to fill that retailer within the evenings.
“We had been blessed to have an ideal workers who did an amazing job by way of all of it,” he mentioned.
Whole Family Nutrition and Market has been affected by the web similar to another retailer, however the Barbieris see a silver lining within the clouds.
“When I began working in a retail retailer, there was quite a lot of one-on-one schooling as they got here in, educating them about well being, immune methods, pure cures,” Michelle mentioned. “As the years have passed by, with the web and Amazon taking on, issues have shifted and altered. It’s extra of individuals wanting info however nonetheless buying on-line. So that modified how we needed to do enterprise.”
Warren says the web, regardless of its apparent influence on retail brick-and-mortar, has had some optimistic influence.
“In the early days it was a race to the underside on pricing,” he mentioned. “Online websites to start with didn’t have to gather gross sales tax, however we did, so it was a really unfair scenario. But we’ve leveled the taking part in area there. And these massive corporations have gotten a deal with on who there promoting their merchandise to. There aren’t these those who simply open up their garages and begin promoting their merchandise. Numerous third-party distributors significantly those that carry high-quality brand-recognition merchandise, have stopped that. So in quite a lot of instances we’re not solely aggressive on pricing, we’re cheaper.”
And having been shuttered in place for weeks and months, the post-pandemic shopping for public is glad to be again within the shops buying.
“People are doing to proceed buying on-line as a result of it’s handy,” he mentioned. “But individuals additionally miss coming in and buying. We’re a kind of locations that individuals are available and see outdated mates, they usually may also get what they need proper then. So it’s advanced to that however I believe the longer term for folk like us might be good.
“I believe well being and immune well being are extra essential than ever and we’ve seen individuals we haven’t seen earlier than,” he mentioned. “People are saying that wish to make modifications and that’s what we’re for.”