When shopping small, our daily purchasing decisions, from groceries to oil changes, remind us that we are supporting our community. Our dollars are filtered back into our own town’s economy, which produces jobs and opportunities for our neighbors and friends. For me, small business took on a whole new meaning when I was introduced to the owner of Apothecary Off Main, Traci Lawson.
With only two storefront locations, the fact that Lawson chose Grand Rapids for her second location is a testament to Grand Rapids’ growing small business scene. “I would love to say that I did plenty of research before deciding to open my second location in GR, but that is not the case. I had a close friend move to GR and we were chatting one night and I said, ‘don’t look for a job right away, maybe I will open a store there for you to run!’ Next thing I know, she found the perfect spot and that’s how it happened,” said Lawson.
Since its opening in August, the public has been especially supportive. “It is the best feeling to have a customer tell me that Apothecary Off Main is their favorite place to be. I get customers telling me that they love to come into the shop to get away and be in a happy place. We truly love what we do and the products we sell,” remarked Lawson.
She cited her location as part of the store’s success, categorizing her Vista location as a “destination” shop, a fun errand accessible primarily by vehicle. In Grand Rapids, however, her shop is a hit with pedestrians and those interested in shopping small and local. Having walked around her adorable, homey shop, I can argue that the atmosphere and customer service contributes to her popularity as well.
A woman passionate about using American made, natural products, Lawson stocks her store almost exclusively with JR Watkins Naturals. With a product for every room in the house, from old fashion remedies to foaming hand soap, the company was founded in 1868 and hasn’t stopped pioneering items for the simple home since. She recognizes that customers can often feel that the switch to natural products is unnecessary or daunting, but she explains the importance of a natural lifestyle starting in the home. Consumers can make the simple choice of buying spices to make meals instead of opting for fast food, or using herbs for aches instead of medications are all simple steps to living a cleaner, healthier life.
Aside from wanting to support USA labels and products that don’t harm the environment, Lawson gives customers the best choice they can find in home and personal care. “I think people are starting to feel part of something bigger and better when using natural products. For example, I offer CSA (community supported agriculture) deliveries at my Vista location. I have partnered with a local farm and they drop off freshly picked produce each Thursday. They are not only eating better, they are supporting a local family business and that gives them pride on supporting the community they live in.”
Now Traci has a question for you: where should she open the next Apothecary Off Main?