opens first-ever organic market
In a departure from its traditional store model, Sangster's
has opened its first-ever organic markets in Saskatchewan
Just over a year ago, Darryl Sangster
saw a potentially tremendous business opportunity materialize before his
eyes in his
very own kitchen at home.
Within a year, he
had parlayed that "potential opportunity" into four brand new organic market stores in three Saskatchewan cities.
, a third-generation natural health retailer who is the president and CEO of Sangster's Health Centres
based in Saskatoon, SK, came to the realization his
company was missing a huge segment of the natural health business when he
wife Cindy - just home from food shopping - unpacking the bags, which all sported the logo of one of Sangster's competitors.
, which was established by Darryl's dad Roy in 1971, had long been based on a vitamin and supplement store model, with a modest food offering.
And as Darryl
wife unpack all the healthy foods from his
asked himself, 'How many other Cindys are out there...shopping at Sangster's
for their vitamin needs, then buying their healthy foods elsewhere?'
"It struck me that the current Sangster's system was not providing full health to the family," offered Darryl
"We were doing a good job with supplements, but we were not filling all the needs of all the shoppers."
After processing the idea of offering food at Sangster's
, the first thing Darryl
did was bounce it off his
number one sounding board: his
There was another important factor that helped spur Darryl to the idea of launching the Sangster's Organic Market model, and it had to do with the lack of adequate retail spaces available.
"It's getting harder to find 600 to 800 sq. ft. locations, which is what has worked extremely well for Sangster's Health Centre's
Throughout the last 10 years, developers are no longer building smaller locations, and thus, our business model was beginning to feel pressure to adapt.
Most of our stores that have opened within the past 10 years fall into the 1,000 to 1,500 sq. ft. size."
From the time of the initial thought to the time of decision to make the idea a reality was between two to three weeks, recalls Darryl
As mentioned earlier, Sangster's
has traditionally offered some food in its stores.
says, depending upon the franchise operator, a typical Sangster's generally produces about five to 10 per cent of its sales through foods.
Organic Market concept is following a model that incorporates a third of its sales through foods, about half of its sales through supplements (including sports nutrition products), and the remaining sales through natural body care, cleaning products, personal hygiene, infant supplies and pet food."
Today, there are four Sangster's
Organic Markets up and running, all in Saskatchewan.
Two are in Saskatoon while the other two are located in Prince Albert and North Battleford.
One of the Saskatoon stores will serve as the company's flagship, a place to try new things, experiment, bring potential franchisees and offer a place to provide training.
This store features a deli - a first for Sangster's
- managed by an outside local business, preparing fresh-made sandwiches and salads using hormone-free meats.
How much square footage do you need to operate an organic market?
"Ideally," says Darryl
, "we are utilizing between 1,500 and 2,000 sq. ft. I do wish to state that Sangster's
has never been driven by 'size,' rather, we expand businesses based on the individual business owners understanding...including our own.
When asked if there were challenges finding or building relationships with food suppliers, Darryl
replied, "Of course.
We had to research, contact and forge some very new relationships, especially with our frozen meats suppliers."
As for delving into the wonderful world of produce, Darryl
says it will be up to each individual franchisee to decide.
How many Sangster's
Organic Markets we can expect to see in the near future is still up in the air, explains Darryl
"I can tell you that four of the last four stores have opened as Sangster's
Organic Market stores, and I can tell you that three of the next four Sangster's
are opening as Organic Market stores, but as I explained to my franchise partners at our annual convention, neither business model is better than the other, they are simply different.
Both business models incorporate the same procedures, policies, training and systems, both business models offer many of the same products and both business models are in fact Sangster's
The only difference is that one store model is larger than the other, one store has incorporated a wider selection of foods to fill space and offer a larger selection to health conscious customers, and, of course, one has a slightly different store front description, informing the consumer of the type of Sangster's
experience to expect when they walk in. Sangster's
is our brand - Health Centres and Organic Market
are simply descriptors of our retail experience offered inside and Sangster's
brand is what our customers have grown to love and trust."
Building opportunities for people
It has been an interesting nine years for both Darryl
Four years later, Darryl was named president of Sangster's, with Roy retiring from the business.
Two years later, on February 19, 2010, Darryl
was successful in purchasing Sangster's Health Centres
back from Planet Organic
, making the retailer a privately owned family business once again.
Later that year, Sangster's
acquired Canadian Bio Supplements
, a Saskatoon-based manufacturing company, primarily to manufacture Sangster's
private label products.
"Four years ago, if someone told me that my wife and I would buy back Sangster's
from Planet Organic
, purchase a manufacturing facility, develop a second product brand called Canadian Bio
, hire a naturopathic doctor to benefit our company, and build an organic business model which is designed to work with - not against - our existing system....I'd say they were nuts.
But the reality is, I am fortunate to have a wife who supports me and my crazy ideas and I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with amazing employees who are as energized and motivated as I am to build something fantastic.
What's amazing is that we don't even know what the end result will be, all we know is that we are building things which help others, which is in fact causing us to live our motto PPF - Put your Partners First.
We are building opportunities for people to enter small business ownership and we are fortunate to be in a 'feel-good' industry that allows us to help people live healthier lives and feel better naturally.
"So, how many stores will we have?
I can tell you that if it makes sense, we will do it and that means that I am searching for acquisitions, partners and independent health food business owners who want to join Sangster's
and become part of our expanding and supportive business model.
Ultimately, I will take my foot off the pedal at 100 outlets within Canada, yet I believe the Canadian market can bear up to 400 Sangster's retail outlets."
A quick Q and A with Darryl Sangster, Sangster's president and CEO
DS: Be it Sangster's Health Centres
Organic Market stores...retail staffing is and continues to be a love- hate relationship.
I have franchise partners who have very loyal and knowledgeable staff and I have franchise partners who struggle with staff retention.
Our company has found that our happiest franchise partners and our most loyal retail staff come from the same source.....their commonalities are that they are 'current' customers of Sangster's