What does Randy sell in his store? "Our most popular products are vitamins and sports supplements, particularly protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, as well as items to help with sports injuries." Randy knows about sports injuries. "I was involved in a lot of sports in my younger days. I started taking sports supplements and realized they worked."
Your Vitamin Store now caters to triathletes, cyclists, marathon runners, hockey, rugby and lacrosse players. "Basically, we see either endurance athletes or players of contact sports. It's these two groups that see the most injuries; they need us the most."
Randy worked for several years in other health food stores before opening Your Vitamin Store with a friend in 1989. "Because of my interest in sports, I've always been intrigued by how health foods and supplements could help my performance." Back when he started out, health food stores were few and far between, and Internet shopping for supplements was non-existent.
Opening his own store seemed the next logical step. "When you're young you have these ideas," he says, "it just seemed the natural thing to do, rather than working for someone else." Located at the busy intersection of Burrard Street and 4th Avenue, Your Vitamin Store has become a destination for many Vancouver health enthusiasts as well as athletes.
If the store doesn't have the product that you are looking for, chances are Randy can find it through one of his suppliers. "As long as it's carried by a Canadian distributor, I can usually accommodate special requests," he says.
"Unfortunately, if it's carried by a U.S., Australian or other foreign company, the complexity of customs and import duties makes it difficult for a small store like us to bring the product into Canada."
Randy's customers return over and over for his great service. "I like people to experience friendly service as soon as they walk in the door," he says. "I try to get to know people, find out what they need, and sell them something to fill that need, not just to make a sale."
The Internet has changed the health food and sports supplement industry considerably. "People can buy products online at rock bottom prices, but they don't get the same service or advice."
Education and advice are what Randy specializes in. Once he understands a customer's ailment, concern, or just a desire for a healthier lifestyle, he's happy to spend the time recommending the right products to help them. "It's always like a friend coming in. I try to help them the best way I can."" >