It Worked for Me
Got dead space in your store? Why not transform it into something completely new?
That's what went through Wendy Meyerson's mind when she decided to add an art gallery to her store, Natur-Tyme of DeWitt, NY (2011 WholeFoods Magazine Retailer of the Year).
Natur-Tyme had relocated to its current, significantly larger home (15,000 ft2) in 2012, and had been using a corner of its store for selling organic bedding, clothing and the like.
"While I appreciated this part of the store, I wanted to get creative and think of something new to do with the space," says Meyerson, second-generation owner of Natur-Tyme since 2001. "It's a beautiful space in our store with beautiful windows."
Being community minded and drawn to working with local talent, Meyerson came up with the idea of highlighting local artists among her product mix. She teamed up with local artist Maria Rizzo, whose award-winning artwork has been on display throughout the Northeast and abroad, and made her the store's artist in residence. In July of this year, Meyerson transformed her Community Corner into a light and airy gallery, where Rizzo and featured artists offer pieces for purchase.
In the end, though, Meyerson says her decision to offer an art gallery wasn't about sales. "It wasn't done to make money, but to get the community more involved in Natur-Tyme," she states.
The area is also multipurpose. Since the gallery includes movable panels as well as cubbies for sculptures, the space is also used for interactive workshops like cooking demonstrations or vendor events. "It gives life to an area that I had only previously used maybe three or four times a month," says Meyerson. "It gives it purpose and it invites people to come over and look at the pieces."
Meyerson is no stranger to thinking outside the box about natural retailing. Her store already offers an inhouse, full-service Enhanced Beauty Salon, as well as unique events like its annual British Tea Party for 500 guests.
"As an independent retailer—and the world of retailing is changing, like everyone knows—we need to differentiate ourselves and get creative. This is something unique and different to help support local artists," says Meyerson. "When we doubled our size, we wanted to see how many new and different areas we could touch for our customers that you can't find walking into a mass market retailer."
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2015 (online 8/14/15)