We reviewed the nominations and weighed several obvious names before deciding upon the 2018 Person of the Year. It’s you! We honor you independent “local heroes” who have poured lots of sweat equity and love into serving your communities and your customers.

In the face of increased competition from everywhere, your job has not become easier. The hours you put in and the challenges you conquer daily are a testament to your strength and the value you bring to the world. Your face may not appear on the cover of this magazine, but you are all there in spirit!

It’s appropriate to pay homage to your essential role in bringing wellness to life. You are the pioneers who created an industry where none existed — that now extends into every supermarket and mass merchant, from the drugstore to the corner bodega.

You are positioned to lead yet again as the entire focus of health shifts to prevention and self-care. Your customers are taking charge of their health, questioning what they put on and into their bodies and those of their families. You have the knowledge and the background they are looking for and can offer the community they crave.

Trust us. We are not complete Pollyannas here. We understand the frustration you have of spending time educating customers only to have them turn online to make a purchase. Or of watching your vendors’ product line appear in a mass merchant or drug chain with no advance warning. You wrestle with technology – from your checkout system to your email marketing.

We feel your joy and your pain and are right in it with you — committed to arming you with strategies and ideas for keeping ahead of the curve. The photo here is “our” local, Green Acres Health Food Store in Piscataway, N.J. It’s got two Whole Foods Markets in a 10-mile radius and sits a stone’s throw from a Shop-Rite, Walmart and Aldi.

That picture shows the turnout for the store’s annual Health Fair. Live music was playing, product demos galore clogged the aisles, and the joint was jumping. Be well. See you in the New Year!

Laurie Petersen

Photo by Gi Pamperien
Photo by Gi Pamperien


P.S. Were you able to identify the retailers on our cover? (Clockwise from top right) Aaron Gottlieb - Native Sun, Rob Auerbach - Rainbow Blossom, Dean Nelson - Dean's Natural Food, Susie Farben and Diana Hicks - MaMa Jean's, Emily, Elizabeth and Michael Kanter - Cambridge Naturals, Adam and Debra Stark - Debra's Natural Gourmet