You may know them by the infamous blue shirt they wear, by the friendly “hello” or “can I help you find something” they offer as you peruse the aisles or by their vast product knowledge and unending commitment to customer service. These characteristics make up the Heinen’s associate.
At Heinen’s, we believe “you have to find the best to sell the best,” and this includes finding the best people! Our vision begins with those who wear the Heinen’s blue shirt; they are what makes shopping with Heinen’s memorable and enjoyable.
So, let’s get to know the people behind the blue shirt! Today, we’re talking to Cathy, Heinen’s Rocky River Wellness Consultant, who uses her extensive knowledge and experience in the natural food industry to help Heinen’s customers feel their best.
How long have you worked at Heinen’s?
I I have spent my entire Heinen’s career as a Wellness Consultant at the Rocky River store. I just celebrated my nine-year anniversary in January.
What inspired you to work in Heinen’s Wellness Department?
I have an extensive background and strong passion for wellness that began in 1976 when I first visited the Cleveland Food Co-op. I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and quickly realized how much I related to the natural food industry. I was inspired to begin a career in the field and ended up managing the Cleveland Food Co-op’s HBC supplement department for some time before going on to be a regional broker visiting wellness stores in Northeast Ohio representing manufacturers.
From there, I served as a regional manager for a probiotic company, then found myself managing the supplement department at Mustard Seed Market before making the move to Colorado where I managed the supplement department for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
The pull of family had me moving back to Ohio to manage the HBC supplement department at Earth Fare in Akron. That was until a friend told me Heinen’s was hiring a Wellness Consultant at their Rocky River location.
After spending so many years working alongside natural food experts, I felt that this role at Heinen’s would push my boundaries and allow me to use my experience and knowledge to relate to those outside of the supplement industry. In fact, 10-15% of the customers who visit the Rocky River location walk through Wellness, so there is a huge opportunity to help people understand the importance of food and smart supplementation for health.
What does wellness mean to you?
When I think of Wellness, “balance” is the first word that comes to mind. Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Pesek, MD always talks about how our bodies are constantly trying to achieve homeostasis, which is simply another word for balance.
There are so many aspects to life and health, and in my mind, living well is finding harmony amongst all the different facets that make us human.
As a Certified Heinen’s Wellness Consultant, what unique services can you offer our customers?
I studied Biology extensively in college, so I understand what the body needs and how it functions. I have also had the privilege of receiving training from some of the most educated minds in the natural food industry, so I can offer Heinen’s customers knowledge in a variety of areas within the world of wellness.
I also understand that wellness is very personal, and no two people are alike, so as a Heinen’s Wellness Consultant, I listen to each individual customer and help them find the solutions that work for their body and lifestyle. My goal will always be to meet people where they are on their wellness journey and help them get to where they want to be.
What has Surprised You Most about Working in the Wellness Department?
Working in the natural food and supplement industry for so long, I became very accustomed to the unending need to have the largest and newest assortment of products, but when you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, that can be extremely overwhelming. Knowing which supplements to take is confusing on its own but being surrounded by countless varieties of the same supplement and trying to decipher which is best can be mind boggling and frustrating.
I have always appreciated Heinen’s Wellness Department for eliminating the guesswork. While larger wellness and supplement retailers strive to have the largest assortment of products, Heinen’s works to have a small, but mighty assortment of the best products.
Each product line in our Wellness Department is vetted by experts to ensure that it is the highest quality for the category it represents. If you buy something from our Wellness Department, you cannot go wrong because we only pick the best of the best.
What is your favorite part of working in the Wellness Department?
Well, I love working at Heinen’s because it’s where I met my husband! But aside from that, I love every aspect of being a Wellness Consultant; my days are never boring. I treat my department like my own little store and take pride in ordering products, making displays, and ensuring Wellness is clean, organized, and easy for customers to shop.
Additionally, I have always had a passion for serving others, and I love knowing that my fellow associates and customers trust me with something as personal as their wellness.
How have you seen Heinen’s Wellness Department evolve over time?
Over my nine years at Heinen’s I have experienced an evolution in my personal views on wellness. With years of experience in the supplement industry, I understood the importance of eating well, but it wasn’t until coming to Heinen’s that I truly understood the concept of “food as medicine.” This is the fundamental principal behind Heinen’s Wellness Department. It is at the forefront of all our conversations, and over the years, I have made it a pillar of my thinking as well.
If there is one item from the Wellness Department that you can’t live without, what is it?
Probiotics. We as humans cannot live without them. I specifically like the New Chapter All-Flora Probiotic, but with so many kinds of bacteria living in our gut, I will often cycle others into my routine.
If there is one item from anywhere in our store that you can’t live without, what is it?
I am a coffee lover and appreciate that Equal Exchange recognizes the disparities between how much consumers pay for coffee and the income of coffee growers. They have helped growers form cooperatives so that they can make a living while simultaneously practicing sustainable growing. Being in the natural food industry, your kind of an activist by nature, so I really enjoy Equal Exchange Coffee.
What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?
I like to be at home with my cat, spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren, and I also enjoy cooking. Right now, I am in soup mode. I love a good bean-based soup with lots of veggies!
Why do you love working at Heinen’s?
Heinen’s cares for their associates and they embrace the wellness philosophy that I’ve been championing for 40+ years. From the top leadership of the company to the individual Wellness Consultants in our stores, Heinen’s believes in the power of holistic wellness and strives to help their customers and their people be and feel their best.