It Worked for Me: How Working with a Regional Trade Group Helped My Store


Columbia, TN—When Jackie Davis, owner of Columbia Health Foods, first saw some initial communications about a new program being launched by a regional trade association, her interest was piqued. Unfortunately, her schedule was packed. The dates that the Southeast Natural Products Association (SENPA) would be in town for its first Strategies for Success Road Show and Education event conflicted with a previous engagement.

When declining the offer, the response from Debra Short, executive director of SENPA, was a surprise. “She said, ‘Do you mind us stopping by your store?’” Davis recalls.

So a few weeks later, a team from SENPA came to the store and introduced themselves, spending the better part of an hour learning about Columbia Health Foods and telling Davis about SENPA. “That meant a lot to me, that they would take time out of their day and check out my store. My whole family got to meet them. It was a really good experience and it made me feel like the organization really cared about people,” Davis states.

She then sent her staff to a free educational event the group was hosting locally as part of its road show. “Free education like that is so beneficial. It keeps your store going and gives you more of an edge,” Davis feels. “My staff learned a whole lot and was very impressed by the education. It really helped them.”

The experience made such an impact on her that she decided to run for an office within the group and is now on the SENPA Retail Board of Directors. Davis’s mother had been a member of the group several years ago when she ran the store. “We would go to the SOHO show, but I never really understood what they stood for and did,” she states. “With the support that they gave me, I really wanted to be a part of it.”

She adds, “Since becoming involved, I’ve met a lot of people. They just do so much legislatively and keep you up to date on issues, let you know what’s going on the industry, introduce you to people that are in the same industry and have the same ideas and goals that you do…I have learned so much from them.”

Information about the 2016 SENPA Road Show event is available here:


Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, 5/25/16