We chatted to Cees Hekelaar, owner of Way of Life in Pukekohe to find out more about the team and why they love helping their customers with their individual health needs.
How long have you been in business?
I have been involved in natural health retail since April 1978, so for 41 years. The last 11 years I’ve been based in Pukekohe which has that lovely rural town, community feel but is only a short train or car ride to the CBD, so has all the cultural and other benefits a big city has to offer.
Tell us about being part of the Community Health Stores Group?
Before joining CHS in 2018 I was involved in a similar group of stores in Holland, experiencing first-hand the added value of working together in a larger retail group. The best thing is being able to share ideas and knowledge, which we can use to tailor our health advice to our customers’ needs.
What is the best thing about your job? What gets you up in the morning?
It’s so rewarding when my customers come in happy and appreciative when their health has improved considerably. You may think how after 41 years (a lifetime!) one can still be interested in the same job, but this industry has a continuous output of new research and knowledge, which keeps me ticking and wanting to help people.
Tell us about your team; why are they so special to you?
My team is wonderful. Everyone’s heart is really in helping their customers and supporting our business. Each of them has that natural desire to help people and finding the best personalised advice to improve health and well-being based on years and years of experience and knowledge. They all have the same desire as me to absorb new knowledge.
Why do customers keep coming back to your store?
People recognise that we love our job, that we know what we’re talking about, and that our focus is on their needs first. We offer the best, honest advice, high-quality products and build long lasting relationships with our customers. When they have a good experience, they come back but also tell their friends and family, which helps spread the good word!
Is there anything new at the store?
We’ve just opened a new herbal dispensary headed up by our instore naturopath and herbalist Nigel. As part of our service we have ACC registered Osteopaths, nutritionists, naturopath, herbalists, tui na massage therapists and an acupuncturist.
How does your store support your local community?
We are part of the local community and show our support to many worthwhile charities, schools and theatres including Pukekohe Hospice.
Are there any new or unique products that are rising in popularity in store?
Digestive enzymes and gut health products are gaining popularity with our customers. More and more people are realising that a healthy body starts in the gut.
Are there any products which remain popular, that work and have stood the test of time?
Unbelievably Rescue Remedy of Edward Bach’s flower remedies shows to work time after time. It has done since the 1930s when Dr Edward Bach started using it for his patients when in any form of sudden emotional distress or shock.