Monday, May 14, 2007

Brick & Mortar Low-Carb Stores on Endangered List

When the low-carb craze first exploded on the scene, there were specialty stores popping up everywhere. You could easily do a search on the Internet and find several online stores to supply your needs. You were also able to find several brick and mortar stores where you could walk in, look around, closely inspect the labels, talk with the owner or sales people, try a sample or two, make your purchases and take them home.

While I'm glad the craze is over, I really miss the brick and mortar stores. There are very few left thanks to bad press, high prices, and misleading labels.

A few years ago we had occasion to be in Indianapolis, Indiana for business, and while we were there we'd shop at our favorite lc store, Low-Carb USA. I even had a frequent customer card that gave me discounts. The manager used to excitedly tell me how they were hoping to eventually branch out across the nation. On my way out the door I'd grab a handful of free recipes, via their Recipe Swap bulletin board. Sadly, they have gone from having two Indianapolis locations, to zero.

An acquaintance of mine started a low-carb store believing it would be a huge hit in her area. To her disappointment the low-carb craze fizzled in her first few months of business. She lost her store and a lot of money in the process. Very sad indeed.

There are a few places where you can still find low-carb goodies without having to pay for shipping. Here in St. Louis we have Whole Foods, Trader Joes and World Market. I can find a few of my favorite items in these stores, but it's just not the same. I loved walking in knowing I could buy anything in the store I wanted, because it would be, within reason, acceptable on my plan.

Now you can see why I get excited when I find a low-carb store that offers more than online service. Even if it's not near me, I know it's there for low-carbers in that area. I've recently found just such a store: Harmony Healthy Foods

They boast a large a selection of healthy foods to fit several lifestyle choices. They feature low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie, sugar-free, gluten-free.. the list just goes on and on. Now don't let the low-fat, low-calorie, or fat-free labels scare you off. Owned by three low-carb dieters, you will find plenty of lc choices to fit your lifestyle.

A quote from Inside Bay Area :

Co-owners Leland Turner and Kevin Carpenter of Antioch and Linda Valenty of Livermore purchased the store three years ago. They also owned a store in Pittsburg but it has closed. All three owners follow low-carb diets, but say the store has many merits.

Several years ago, Turner suffered from diabetes, high-blood pressure and high cholesterol, and one day could hardly make it up a flight of stairs. He underwent heart bypass surgery for a clogged artery, but was left taking 12 different medications that made him gain weight and sent his blood sugar "out of control."

His doctor suggested trying the Atkins diet, which not only helped him drop 50 pounds, but got his diabetes under control.

"It just changed everything about me," Turner said.

Because of the owners' dedication to eating healthy, they joke that customers don't need to worry about the store closing anytime soon.

"If we closed the store, we wouldn't have anything to eat," Turner said.

If you don't live in the bay area, you can still order from them online at

Do you have a low-carb store near you? If so, treasure it. Get the word out to others in your area that could benefit from such a store. And be sure the owners know how much their service means to you.

Will we see a rise in low-carb brick and mortar stores in the future? I don't really know. But I can dream, right?


TESS said...

I never had an actual store near me but out 1 health food store carried quite a few products, then of course they were all gone. No whole foods or any of those places. I have just become used to shopping on line. Netrition is my store and at $4.99 for shipping it is cheaper than driving to town anyway, what with gas prices being what they are!I bought a pilates tape, paid a fortune and never even took it out of the box. Maybe I need to give it a look see!

Cherry said...

Nah I don't have it here. Would be interesting to open a B & M low carbs store here though. So the traditional stores are getting crushed by the online one ?

online store only pay hosting as rental fee, while B & M store pay the land rent, so unless they are doing great they will lose.

Cherry said...

Well its easier to open online shopping than BandM store right. The rental fee expense is of course lesser in online store. I dont have any lc store here but I agree it should be nicer to walk in there and look around the stuff in real rather than the picture.

Sparky's Girl said...

Most of the health food stores I've been to only care 3 or 4 items. The bigger chains, like Trader Joes, do have a little more than that, but still nothing compared to a specialty store.

Yes.. take a look at that Pilates tape. After just a couple of workouts you should notice a difference in your posture. Slowly you'll start seeing toned muscles and you'll feel stronger! I think it's an awesome workout.

Yes, it is easier and cheaper to open and online store. But honestly, I don't shop at Wal-Mart online because I have one just a few miles away. I can "handle" the product I'm considering. I can really inspect it. I'm very picky about the reading the labels on food. Online you can't always see everything you want to see. Also, if I'm craving a low-carb chocolate bar, so some other such food, I really don't like waiting several days to get it. :0)

But I am very thankful we have the online stores. Places like Carbsmart, Netrition, and Low Carb Connoisseur are wonderful to have around. It wouldn't be as fun without them!