We’re asking customers to share what they love about their local natural products store. This month, the spotlight shines on one shopper’s experience at Fruitful Yield, Darien, IL.

Founded in 1962 by Elwood Richard, Fruitful Yield’s roots date back to the WWI era. As Christine McParland, Fruitful Yield Direct Team Member, explains on The Fruitful Life blog, Elwood’s father, Paul Richard, owned the company Fearn Soya, which was working to develop soy products as an alternative protein source for our troops. Paul passed the business on to his three sons upon his death in 1960.

Wanting to learn more about the retail side of the natural products industry, eldest son Elwood opened his first “Health House” store in 1962, and in the first decade he added four more stores. The chain was renamed Fruitful Yield in 1971, and today remains family owned with 13 stores in Northeast Illinois.

What makes the difference: “Shopping locally has changed my life,” says Sara Funk, Law Office Manager, who checked out the store after a friend recommended it. “I never really stopped to acknowledge Fruitful Yield but once I did, there was never going back to big box health food stores.”

In her area, consumers are limited to mostly big box stores, Funk explains. Fruitful Yield is one of the only smaller health food stores nearby. Because the store doesn’t carry “unnecessary inventory” like 10 brands of popcorn, the shopping experience is simpler and quicker, she adds. Funk focuses on buying whole foods, organic, non-GMO, color/dye free, Natural Flavor-free options from local farmers and manufacturers. A few of Funk’s favorite products to buy are vitamin C, fish oil, probiotics and local raw honey. “People often ask how we can afford these kinds of foods and I typically reply: When you are truly only buying whole foods you can afford it!”

Supporting local small businesses is important to Funk. “Having been raised in a family of entrepreneurs all my life, I must keep supporting my peers in the community.” And, she says, it’s easy when you get along well with the staff. “The staff at Fruitful Yield is so personable, knowledgeable, and helpful. They’ve gotten to know me, my family and my kids.”

In more ways than one, Fruitful Yield has made shopping easier for Funk. “They have a great rewards program so I get cash back after spending so much. Plus, they provide plenty of literature to constantly keep up with, their samples table is always so generous, and their customer relations are truly unique.”

Fruitful Yield has supported Funk’s lifestyle. “The honesty and sincere care is what brings me back time and time again. I just feel at home when I’m there. Free to be me and take care of myself and my family. There’s no money that can ever beat that.”