Coral Springs, FL—Tunies Natural Grocery and Vitamin Supercenter, the largest store of its kind in Florida, celebrated its 20th anniversary this September.
Founder and original owner, Al Forman, opened Tunies in 1993 with the goal of creating a store that would allow healthy living to be affordable for everyone. The business was so successful that, in 2005, Forman relocated from a 3,000-ft² store to a 15,000-ft² facility. Current owner Taylor Hamilton, who took over in August 2010, commends Forman on his feat.
“[Forman] built an incredible business,” says Hamilton. “He had the foresight in 2002 to want to open up a 15,000-ft² store, which is a huge leap from 3,000 ft². It was a completely different business.” The move allowed for Tunies to expand all its product lines and departments, giving them the largest selection of health food products in Florida. Hamilton adds, “It turned from a kind of mom and pop health food store to a full-service store.”
Tunies’ size isn’t the only thing that makes it so successful. “We have over 30,000 different grocery products,” Hamilton says, “but we also have a third of the store devoted to supplements. It’s a synergy of those two together that make us successful: bringing the people in for health foods and then transitioning them to purchasing supplements.”
One service Tunies offers is free nutritional counseling from a certified nutritionist who has her own private office in the store. Hamilton believes that “it makes a huge difference to have a separate, private area for the nutritionist to consult with somebody because a lot of issues people face can be very embarrassing; the privacy of her office lends itself to a much better experience.”
The nutritional counseling makes Tunies’ large store less intimidating, Hamilton says. “Anybody can shop a grocery store, but with supplements, the words are difficult to pronounce and there are a million different products.” He thinks it’s very important to have a “well-educated, trained staff and nutritional counseling” on hand to make navigating the store and making the right health product purchases less overwhelming. Tunies also offers educational seminars to help their customers better understand nutrition.
Tunies marks its growing success with an anniversary celebration each September. Hamilton invites all his vendors to come or send samples to support Tunies, and offers a “10% off sale of everything in the store” on top of regular sales. For its 20th anniversary, Hamilton says the store is “also giving away a year’s supply of free groceries.” All of these great promotions, as well as Tunies’ well-deserved reputation, are what bring in about 3,000 customers to the celebration each year.
In addition to its Coral Springs location, Tunies opened its second location in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, this past April. Though Hamilton kept the same floor plan and products mix, “we expanded on prepared foods, grab-and-go stuff, an organic salad bar and a juice bar.” When asked if he had any more plans for expansion, Hamilton said he’d like to open up one or two more stores in the coming year.
So, what can other health food stores do to help them be as successful as Tunies has been for 20 years? “Develop some type of method of communication with your customers,” Hamilton advises. “The first thing I did when I bought the business was develop a customer database with e-mail addresses and phone numbers.” By communicating often with their customers, Tunies not only increases the number of times shoppers visit the store, but also makes shopping more personal.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2013