3 Benefits To Shopping With Independent Retailers

The Billingslea family: Betsy, Richard, John and Ramona
The Billingslea family: Betsy, Richard, John and Ramona

If you grew up in the era of mass chains such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, you may not know the term, Five and Dime, much less understand the nuances of walking into a store that is owned and operated by someone who lives just up the street.

One of my earliest childhood memories is going with my grandpa, who was an independent contractor, to the local hardware store in the small town where he lived.  Grandpa knew the name of the clerk behind the counter and was greeted in turn as an old friend.  As the two talked about that year’s boom crop of cotton and the petition for a stoplight at the intersection of Main and 2nd street, I took in the variety of things around me.  Not only were there bushel baskets filled with all kinds of nails, screws, and bolts, but the shelves were also filled with kitchen appliances, garden gadgets, and nifty tools designed to make everyday tasks that much easier.

This early experience may explain why I have a small obsession with gadgets and always seek out Mom & Pop Hardware Stores whenever I am shopping or travelling, but it is also a good illustration of the perks of shopping with locally-owned, independent retailers as opposed to a mass market chain.  Here are 3 benefits to shopping at a family-owned store like Betsy’s Health Foods that I hope you experience every time you choose to shop locally.

1. Relationship

A family-owned store is a commitment that truly involves the entire family.  I have been married to Betsy’s son, John, for 20 years, and I have yet to experience a family dinner that did not involve at least a small (or mostly large) portion of the conversation revolving around the store.  Is it any wonder that I quickly figured out that the saying, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, had some valid applications to my life?

If you own your own business, then you can relate to answering customer emails as you sit waiting for the fireworks show to begin at Disney Land, waking up in a cold sweat at 3 in the morning wondering if you remembered to order a customer’s special request or discussing inventory or customer service issues well past closing.  But these are exciting things for a small business owner because we have a passion for the industry we represent on a daily basis.  If Betsy had lacked an all-consuming passion for supplements, she never would have taken the leap of faith to open her own store in 1993.

The commitment it takes to run a successful business reaps huge dividends for that business’s customers.  At Betsy’s, you know that when you walk into our store, we are both happy and grateful to see you.  We care about the products that we carry, and we care even more that those products meet your ever-changing needs.  Because we get to know your needs by being good listeners, we are better qualified to choose new products.  Because we love the industry we are in, we know an awful lot about the breadth and depth of products available.

Our motto at Betsy’s is, Always Taking Your Health and Your Budget to Heart®.  We emphasize the heart in our business because we have built it on the concept of our love of helping people and our passion to form relationships with our customers that go beyond the bottles on our shelves.  We are not just in the neighborhood.  We are part of our community.

2. The Rest of the Story

You see the headlines; you watch the latest guru on television; you visit a product website or see an infomercial.  In the world of supplements, it is important to look beyond the media blurb to the rest of the story.

Because Betsy has been involved in the supplement industry for almost 40 years, she knows how important it is to stay educated.  That’s why we regularly have manufacturer training on product, do our own mentor-based training in the store, read our industry magazines, are part of our industry’s professional organizations, and attend the big trade shows that allow us to meet with other retailers and manufacturers for the latest industry information.

Besides being able to know the cautions or limitations that a particular supplement may have despite what the headlines claim, all our efforts at education also mean we are aware of the political climate that may threaten your rights to supplements.  Through our Facebook pages, we keep you apprised of Action Alerts when legislation or FDA regulatory changes need your attention.

Our education also means that we strive to stay within the bounds of what we can legally say about supplements according to DSHEA, which labeled supplements as food and thereby focused their claims to the structure and function claims to which proper nutrition (or lack thereof) apply.

All of our focus on the rest of the story boils down to one thing, which is keeping you safe with your use of supplements.

3. Community

I’m sure you’ve heard this argument before, but shopping locally means you keep your dollars local, thereby supporting your community.  Small, local businesses actually employ the majority of people in your neighborhood.  We have a focus that keeps the community’s best interests at heart because our business community is our hometown community.

Because we are local, Betsy’s is also able to shift focus with the rapidly-changing needs of our customers.  If we get requests to carry a certain product, we don’t have to go to a corporate office to make the decision.  If a customer wants to make a suggestion, they can often find a family member working in the store ready to hear it!

As a local business, we also do our best to use local vendors. Our printing and direct mail services are both provided by family-owned businesses.  We use independent service providers for our floor cleaning, window cleaning, a/c services and even plumbing.  And, of course, one of the most prominent supplement companies on our shelves, Bluebonnet Nutrition, is a local company based right here in Sugar Land that we have carried since we first opened more than 20 years ago.


If you’ve ever vacillated between buying mass market or buying from an independent retailer, just imagine what you would lose if your independent retailer were no longer in business.  The family touch not only ensures that you are treated like family, it also brings you the kind of knowledge and service that results when the people who run the business love the services or products they sell enough to dedicate their lives to making them available for others–even if that means dinner conversation that revolves around business.

In health,