Urban Hippie by Jen Lahey is published every second Tuesday at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_Lahey.
The Herb and Spice grocery store at 375 Bank St. has long been a reliable spot to hit for those once-hard-to-find healthy (now so-called super-food) items such as the de-rigor goji berries, spirulina, flax seeds, maca, and raw cacao powders; tons of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly goodies; and a consistently reliable and fresh selection of organic fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
But the keen-eyed shopper will note that the beauty section, which featured all the good-smelling stuff such as body and face lotions, shampoos, homemade soaps, additive-free lip balms, and the like, had always been, well, a little bit cramped. (The same savvy customer will also have noticed that the section has moved around within the store over the past several years, in what one can only guess has been an attempt to make it easier for customers to browse and access product.)
So when a store location opened up just across the street, the owners saw an opportunity to expand into a full store chock full of said health and beauty products.
According to Melissa Acheson, the health and beauty product buyer for the new Herb and Spice Wellness Shop (380 Bank St.), “it’s just nice to have it separate from the grocery store because this is product that it’s nice to the take your time to browse.”
The shiny new shop is a definite upgrade space-wise, and features an array of beauty products, plus supplements, vitamins, aromatherapy items and essential oils; a huge range of body care products; homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, and products for the home.
Ilona Jones, manager of the Wellness Shop as well as the supplements buyer, says the amount of choice means customers needn’t feel trapped in a one-size-fits-all mentality.
She says the staff are keenly aware that every customer’s needs are slightly different, and that the shop shouldn’t be an intimidating experience for customers who might be shopping in the so-called “alternative” health arena for the first time. Instead, Jones says staff take the time to ask customers what’s drawing them in to the store and what their goals are, so that they can help them find exactly the right product. Sounds good to us.