The Health Store was founded by Richard Pryor in the early 70s, as just a small corner shop on 5 City Mill Lane. Here we sit with Richard’s step-grandson, Robin Batchelor, as he talks about the evolution of the company and his plans for keeping us fighting fit well into the future!
The original corner shop has now expanded to a second shop a little further up the road at 27 City Mill Lane, which is dedicated to sports and fitness. At www.mcdaidpharmacy.ie you will find the best health supplements, sports nutrition products, including protein powders, from all of the top brands: USN, Applied Nutrition, Grenade and many more.
Their third shop is by far their largest; The Health Store Organic at 23 Cornwall’s Lane is more like a mini supermarket than your typical health store, as it stocks most household requirements including everything from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, natural toothpastes, deodorants, household products and more. “In fact, many of our customers use us solely for their weekly shopping and don’t need to go elsewhere!” Robin reveals. It also stocks a huge range of eco-friendly goods and an ever-increasing range of vegan products, plus specialist products for anyone with special dietary needs such as wheat, dairy, gluten or other intolerances.
If that wasn’t already enough, their qualified staff are always on hand to help and offer advice – and always with a smile.
2020 has been a catalyst for change in many people.
Did the turmoil of last year impact sales? How did you adapt?
Lockdown was challenging in many ways, but our team has been great at adapting. We now work in two separate ‘bubbles’ and have introduced a number of changes, particularly online, where we now deliver goods for free to senior citizens and with a small charge to others. During the lockdown we waived all delivery charges though and offered free delivery to everyone to also help reduce human traffic in our streets. Naturally, many people whether young or old do prefer to come in and talk to a ‘real’ person in order to discuss their needs, requirements or perhaps even a newly discovered food intolerance or diet that they are planning, and of course our qualified staff are always delighted to be of help.
Who do you supply and what events have you been involved with?
We are the distributors for over 50 different brands in Gibraltar, supplying many local favourite products like the Grenade Carb Killa Bars, Eat Real’s healthy crisps, Manuka Honey and many more. We distribute to over 80 businesses in Gibraltar including some other local favourites like Ramsons, Eroski and Coviran, along with all of the best gyms like Physique Gibraltar, King’s Bastion and more. We’re always looking for more places to supply and with the changing trends have also started supplying a number of restaurants, cafés and even a few hotels. So, if you have a location that you think could use our products please get in touch with us!
Tell us about your online services.
In 2012 we started a website solely focused on selling to the UK and elsewhere. While it was successful, we realised that it wasn’t all that useful for our local customers and that it was more important for us to focus our efforts at home. So, we launched thehealthstoreorganic.com in 2018, solely for local residents. We offer an easy, local, and as mentioned previously, free to senior citizens delivery service. We allow our customers to choose any date for their delivery, with a choice of two different time slots of when they would like for their products to be delivered, to ensure they’d receive them; and this all includes next day delivery.
As we have over 7,000 products, our website, as you can imagine, is always a work in progress. We are constantly updating our products with photos and descriptions to make it easier to shop with us. As part of our long-term goals, we also want to allow our customers to shop on our website with specific filters, such as vegan or gluten free, so they can shop in comfort, knowing that their dietary requirements, which ever they may be, are being cared for.
Do you use any of your own products? What are the best sellers?
Yes! I really believe in the products we supply and it’s something we always consider when bringing in new products. As you can imagine I do my weekly shop with us; my day-to-day food and snacks are products we supply. I am also a firm believer in supplementing your body with nutrients your body can’t absorb as easily in your diet, or where you may need a boost. The main thing on my mind in 2020 has been my immune system. Supplements like Sambucol, which contains Black Elderberry Extract, is a great everyday immune support product that can be taken by the whole family; it’s actually been a staple product this year for many of our customers. But along with this, I’ve also been supplementing with Vitamin D, Fish Oil and general multivitamins. Additionally, I always have amazon greens powder, those taking one tablespoon of greens powder containing green tea extract daily reported significant increases in energy.
Have you seen an increase in people wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle in recent years? What products do you recommend for a January health kick?
Yes, we’ve seen a huge increase over the last few years with 2020 especially being a catalyst for change in many people. One of the key things is to remember that however much you enjoy exercising; you should think about your recovery too. While most of my exercising now involves hiking (I think you’ve featured one of my photos before!), I still use products like USN’s Blue Lab Whey Protein shakes, Applied Nutrition’s Creatine (to increase endurance) and more to help my body recover. After a weekend spent hiking, I don’t want to spend a week at work aching!
Our advice for those starting 2021 off with a health kick is to firstly pick something you enjoy. If you like to run, run. If you like to play a sport, play a sport. Don’t feel that you have to exercise in a certain way to get healthy; everything is valid, and everything should be enjoyable. After that we recommend looking into two main things. Firstly, is your recovery, especially if you’re new to training. Everything is going to ache after those first few sessions and it’s the reason many people don’t stick it out and make it a habit. If you prepare your recovery, you’ll find it much easier to get into the gym or get out on your bicycle for that second week in a row. Secondly, there should be a focus on improving your diet, while still enjoying what you eat. We can help you there, to find healthier alternatives for your favourite foods so you can still indulge while also progressing with your fitness goals. But also, for those of you with low iron, high blood pressure, or other issues, we can help recommend tried and tested supplements to help you, so you can get healthier without worry.
Has the market changed in Gib over the years? What are people interested in more of/less of nowadays?
We’ve found there’s been a steady, growing push towards an overall healthy lifestyle, especially with people being more aware with not only what health benefits organic products bring, but the overall environmental benefits when shopping green and organic. When we first started catering for specific dietary needs, it was more of a niche area, whereas now most people are conscious of specific foods or allergens that don’t sit well with them. They also care more about where their food comes from and how its production affects the world. We research the companies we purchase from as much as possible, because not only does healthy food benefit your body, but it also can benefit the world through environmental concerns.
What are your plans for the future?
Ideally for us we would love to consolidate into a much larger store, so that we can expand the ranges we already offer. We’d also like to increase our storage space and supply to more local shops, supermarkets and restaurants, so that anywhere you go in Gibraltar, you would be sure the food you buy and consume is the highest quality possible. Oh and of course we’d like to keep Gibraltar healthy for another 50 years!
Find The Health Store at 5 and 27 City Mill Lane, and 23 Cornwall’s Lane, or visit thehealthstoreorganic.com. You can also find them on Facebook (TheHealthStoreGibraltar) and Instagram (@HealthStoreGib).