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 Corrine, Heinen’s Mentor Wellness Consultant who uses her own wellness journey and professional expertise to help customers feel their best.
How long have you worked at Heinen’s?
I’ve been working at Heinen’s since August of 1978. I spent 32 years working on the front end at the Mentor location, then decided it was time to retire and pursue one of my other passions – massage therapy. I ended up spending five years working in the medical field after that. Although I loved working in medicine, I truly missed the people, culture and work I did for Heinen’s, so in May of 2015 I came out of retirement and returned to my Heinen’s Mentor family.
My Heinen’s career goes far beyond me though, in fact, my brother in law works at Heinen’s Shaker Heights, my niece is the Deli Lead at Heinen’s Mayfield Village and my daughter worked at Mentor with me when she was in high school and college. We mean it when we say Heinen’s is a true family business!
How many different Heinen’s locations have you worked at?
I’ve spent my entire Heinen’s career at the Mentor location. I am from this area and enjoy working close to home, so spending my time at this store felt like a natural fit.
However, aside from the location, I think the team of associates who work at this store is extremely special and what has kept me around all of these years; we are truly like family. We care about each other not just as colleagues, but as people and friends – you will never go through anything alone here. For example, one of our colleagues was out sick recently, so many of us cooked food and brought it to work to be delivered to him so he wouldn’t have to worry about food while he recovered. No matter how big or small, when one of our teammates needs something, we all step up.
What inspired you to want to work in the Wellness Department?
My passion for wellness, and Heinen’s Wellness Department specifically, can be credited to my personal health journey and experience in the medical field.
Years ago I suffered from carpal tunnel and was debating having surgery for it. That was until one of my Heinen’s customers recommended massage therapy as a potential remedy. I booked an appointment with a local massage therapist, whom I still see to this day, and my carpal tunnel is gone – no surgery required!
This not only sparked my interest in medicine and massage therapy, but opened my eyes to just how powerful holistic wellness truly is and how, with the right knowledge, we can naturally help our bodies be at their best.
I wanted to share my experiences and expertise with my community, and Heinen’s, with its strong belief in holistic wellness, gave me the perfect stage to do just that.
When I returned to Heinen’s in 2015, I was thrilled to learn that a position had opened up in the Wellness Department. I interviewed for it, expressed my passion and seven years later I am back at the place I love doing what I love!
Did you have to partake in training to be become a Heinen’s Certified Wellness Consultant?
In order to provide the customer service that Heinen’s is known for, we do go through training, but the great thing about our team of Wellness Consultants is that we’re all passionate about this field and constantly do our own research.
The wellness space is more prominent than ever and there is so much knowledge to soak in, so you can always find me reading credible articles and books to keep up-to-date on the latest and greatest health findings, trends and products.
Besides research, I also find that we can learn a lot about Wellness from one another, whether that be a customer or a fellow associate. For example, I used to really dislike kale. I knew that it was a superfood and that I should eat it, but to me it tasted like cardboard. Then, one my colleagues taught me how to properly dress it and I have been a fan ever since. It might be a small example, but that one little lesson made a difference in my overall wellness routine.
I like to use my personal experiences with Wellness as a way to provide recommendations to others, and I find the experiences of others to be just as helpful!
At the end of the day, you’re going to have your body for a long time, and it’s the only one you get, so you might as well take care of it. I love being able to help my community do this through my research, passion and experiences.
What is your favorite part of working in the Wellness Department?
I don’t know if I can choose just one thing, but at the top of the list is the idea that I get to help people that I care about feel good and make smarter decisions for their health!
I take my relationships with my customers very seriously – I listen to their stories, many of which are inspirational, and use my experiences and knowledge to make their lives better. I fully believe in holistic wellness and Heinen’s wellness philosophy and am not just here to sell products. I meet people where they want to be met on their wellness journey and provide them with my honest recommendations.
I also love that over the years the team at Heinen’s Mentor has gotten really into the Wellness Department. From management to associates in every department throughout the store, everyone is curious about wellness and wants to learn more!
What is the biggest challenge of being a Wellness Consultant?
I love giving recommendations and sharing my expertise, but I am not a doctor, so I cannot make any claims about how products or remedies will affect someone because everybody is different. I can only share my experiences.
However, the unique thing about Heinen’s is that we have a Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Pesek, MD. He is a holistic physician and the backbone of Heinen’s Wellness Department. In addition to running his own local practice, he was a key player in developing Heinen’s wellness philosophy and has a hands-on role in determining which products make their way onto our shelves. What other grocery store can say they have a Chief Medical Officer?
How have you seen Heinen’s Wellness Department evolve over time?
The wellness world is constantly evolving, so we’re always bringing in new, innovative products.
I’ve been amazed by some of the trends that have developed over the last few years, like mushrooms. I was never a huge fan of eating mushrooms, so I rarely paid them any attention, but lately they have been a huge topic in the wellness world and we now carry all kinds of mushroom-based products ranging from supplements, coffees and teas to a mushroom sprays for your tongue. It’s amazing how something as simple and natural as mushrooms can redefine itself in the wellness space. It’s fascinating to watch and I love being at the forefront of it.
If there is one item from the Wellness Department that you can’t live without and recommend to everyone, what is it?
I put a lot of trust in supplements. I believe that they are truly beneficial for our bodies, especially when paired with a diet rich in Heinen’s incredible produce. Of all the supplements on our shelves, my favorite is Garden of Life shelf stable probiotics. They keep me balanced.
If there is one item from anywhere in our store that you can’t live without and recommend to everyone, what is it?
This might sound contradictory seeing as I work in the Wellness Department, but life is all about balance, so I would have to say that my favorite item is the Chocolate Emporium chocolate peanut butter cups. I am picky when it comes to my peanut butter cups – if the peanut butter is too dry in the center, I am not a fan. These peanut butter cups are so rich and creamy, and they’re made by a company here in Cleveland.
In addition to being delicious, they’re dairy free, gluten free, vegan and kosher. I find that they make thoughtful gifts and are also great for kids with allergies.
That’s another thing that I love about Heinen’s, we thoughtfully source products that everyone can enjoy, especially kids. It’s easy as an adult to understand why you have to stay away from certain foods, but as a kid, it just feels like you’re missing out. We want to provide options for everyone, so whether it be nut-free flax milk with 8 grams of plant protein in the Dairy Department (another personal favorite), or my go-to gluten free peanut butter cups, you’ll find what you need with us.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
I like to cook and make a great hash brown potato pie for breakfast or brunch. Paired with the Saddleberk blueberry maple sausage, it is incredible, but lately, I have relinquished my kitchen to my daughter and her boyfriend who are always cooking something creative.
My father was a butcher, so I grew up eating a lot of meat and consider myself a bit of a traditionalist, but with my daughter making things like jambalaya, gyros and carne asada, I am slowly starting to try new things.
What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?
I love a quiet day at home where I can be in my yard (there’s a comical group of squirrels that I love to feed), watch an old movie, take a walk or even treat myself to coffee or lunch. It’s nice, and very important, to take some time for yourself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
What is your fondest memory from working at Heinen’s?
Gosh, after so many years it’s hard to pick just one, but all of my fondest memories have to do with how well I have been treated by Jeff and Tom Heinen.
When I was planning to retire to work in massage therapy, Tom Heinen took me and a few of my fellow associates out to lunch to celebrate. I don’t know many company owners who would take time out of their busy schedules for lunch with a retiring associate, and they didn’t just do it for me. I’ve seen them take other associates to lunch to thank them for their time at Heinen’s and even had the chance to be included in one outside of my own.
It doesn’t stop there though. Several years ago, after my mother passed, Jeff Heinen visited Heinen’s Mentor for a routine store visit. He was across the way interacting with associates and customers, but when we made eye contact, he put his hands to his heart, bowed his head and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” I was taken aback that he knew anything about the hardship I was going through. That small interaction still brings tears to my eyes to this day.
Jeff and Tom make themselves accessible to us, they listen to us and they care about us as more than just associates. It’s little gestures like these that I cherish most.
Why do you love working at Heinen’s?
We’re a family business in every sense. We’re owned by a family, our own families work here and we form families with our customers and fellow associates. I think that goes a long way and is why Heinen’s has been around for so many years and why I have worked here as long as I have.
I have seen generations of families come through my store and I love that when I come to work I get to know and care for the people in my community and beyond. In fact, my son is in the military and when he was stationed in Washington state, a soldier approach him and asked if his (my son’s) mother worked for Heinen’s because his (the soldier’s) mom lived in Euclid and knew who I was.
It’s experiences like these, and so many more that would take too much time to name, that make me love working here. Whether you’re near our stores or across the country, everyone loves Heinen’s and feels like a part of the family.