We’re asking customers to share what they love about their local natural products store. This month, the spotlight shines on one shopper’s experience at Healthy Pantry, in Whitehall, MI.
Nathan Elliott, a chiropractor based in Muskegon, MI, first heard about Healthy Pantry from his boss after moving home from school in 2018. Growing up in Whitehall, Elliot is familiar with the close-knit community and has found a sense of that small-town vibe in Healthy Pantry.
The store was originally founded by Brenna Bihler and Diane Ingalls in 1999. The “one-store-wonder,” as Gina Bulson, Store Manager, calls it, not only provides healthy foods and wellness products, but puts the community’s health first by donating regularly to Live on the Lakeshore, food pantries, and food drives.
The best part of the store is that Healthy Pantry treats its customers as individuals, Elliott says. “I have built relationships with the employees and I have gotten to know many of them personally. Whenever I need something that I cannot find locally, Gina, the store manager, will do her best to find it for me and has made special orders for me on
For Elliott, searching for minimally processed products that contain quality ingredients is a top priority. Besides staples like essential oils, kombucha, and baking products, one of his favorite products to buy at Healthy Pantry is a local fermented sourdough bread.
Convenience is another valued benefit. “Since Healthy Pantry is located near my work, it makes it so convenient to stop by for the one item you need to make dinner. With a 25-minute commute, it would be a hassle to drag myself to a large store after a long day of work.” A neighborhood shop makes it easier to withstand the cold Michigan winters. “I grab a few items and enjoy a nice conversation before I am on my way! That beats sitting in long lines at the grocery store for sub-quality products.”
At the end of the day, supporting small businesses is important, especially after the challenges of 2020. “When you spend your money locally, you are not only supporting that business, you are supporting the betterment of the community,” says Elliot. “Rather than spending my money at larger corporations that funnel their profits out of the town, I prefer to invest in my neighbors and their dreams. Small businesses have a relationship with their customers that larger businesses lack, and you can’t put a price on that.”