ADDRESS: 919 NW Circle Blvd. Suite E, Corvallis, OR
OWNERS: Pat and Glenn Sardell
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 30
WHAT THEY SELL: Vitamins, minerals, herbal products, teas, homeopathy, aromatherapy, flower essences, natural skincare, cosmetics, books
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Highest quality supplements and accurate information
Tucked in a cozy shopping strip near Circle and 9th, Country Vitamins has become a frequent stop for many area residents who care about their health. Owner Pat Sardell is passionate about her work. “We strive to offer quality products and current information, wrapped in fun and a commitment to our community.” That combination has clearly paid off, as Country Vitamins will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Pat is justifiably proud of being an independent business owner and says it is a privilege to encourage other indies to “hang in there.” In recognition of being this week’s “Business of the Week,” Pat is offering a 30-day supply of Country Vitamins brand basic multi-vitamins to any customer who mentions “independents” or this article.
Pat, how did you get started? I started taking supplements at age 9, after my mother began reading books by Adele Davis. When I started having my own children, I became a big personal advocate of vitamins. I had also worked part-time at a health food store in Southern California. I always wanted to live in Oregon, so in 1982 we traveled to Oregon and picked out Corvallis. My husband and I packed up our 3 children, our pets, and everything we owned, and we made the move. One month later, we opened our store. We’ve been at the same site for nearly 30 years!
What are Country Vitamins’ specialties? We offer high quality dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, specialty products and high quality skin care, health and beauty aids. All of Country Vitamins brand products are double certified and gluten-free. [Ask Pat or her staff what “double certified” means.] We work with companies that have high integrity, so we have confidence in our products.
What do you do better than anyone else? Our customer service is unparalleled. We are information providers, and this leads to extraordinary conversations. We want our customers to be informed, and we like to have fun with our customers. I have a fabulous staff that has dedicated a lot of time to the store. We wouldn’t be where we are without them. We’ve learned to hire people based on their customer service skills, and they really know what our products are about.
How do local independents impact our community? The impact is huge. The community embraces independent businesses because people here understand that you need a good mix of businesses. They know that independents do more to keep dollars in town.
What does the future look like for local independents? Challenges by bigger national chains help us recognize our strengths. The strength of the successful independent is its ability to be nimble and quick to make changes. As long as the community supports us, we’ll thrive.
How many people do you employ? We have 4 full-time and 2 part-time staff.
What inspires you about your work? I laugh a lot with the wonderful people I work with. We enjoy what we do, which is helping people. The store is a wonderful platform for social connectivity. In a 30-year business, you develop long-term relationships.
What has your business done to model sustainability? We’ve always worked toward sustainability and have had several sustainability assessments. We recycle all of our packing material, and I recycle outdated vitamins in my home compost pile. Since we don’t own the building, we’re limited in what we can do to the physical structure. But every April (Earth Month), we feature the vendors we work with and their sustainability efforts.
Are there other ways you contribute to the community? I’ve been active with CIBA (Corvallis Independent Business Alliance), serving as president and continuing to be active. I served on various Chamber committees, including Women in Business and the committee that developed Corvallis City Club. I’ve also volunteered at the regional and national level. I’ve been involved with the Natural Products Association NW since 1999, and I’ve served on the board of the national organization, based in Washington DC, including a 4-year term as president (2008-2012).
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – August 12, 2012)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).