A rock in the shifting economy celebrates 11 years
Whitestone Vitamin and Health Center is celebrating 11 years of good timing and good employees on Sept. 5 in their little store on the corner of Main Street and Cass Street with discounts and hourly giveaways.
Owner Linda Fickes started the Whitestone from the ground up with her own move toward a healthier lifestyle as the foundation of her business when she opened the space in 2007.
“We started from scratch,” Fickes said. “I didn’t buy an existing business. We started right from the bare bones. It’s just grown. We went from not a whole lot on the shelves to packed full, with lots of loyal customers.”
Fickes comes from the generation that shifted from single income households to dual income households in the 1980’s according to the Pew Research Center.
“I know for myself, my generation did not take health as seriously as I see my granddaughters and others that are somewhere between us are taking it,” Fickes said. “It was our generation that came along and ended up being two people working in the household. Less time was paid to necessarily making sure good wholesome food was on the table.”
Whitestone entered the health scene right on the verge of the economic recession, but survived and grew in their first five years.
“There has been a shift and we just happened to hit it at the right time,” Fickes said. “We grew, I think very fast. The way the public has transitioned into a healthier lifestyle has helped us. We have a great following of loyal customers that have made that success for us.”
Fickes said the “bedrock of her business” is the two full-time employees, Lori Falls and Diana Schrock, who have been with her since day one.
“You don’t find employees like that very often,” Fickes said. “That are so dedicated and love what they do and love their customers and come in every day ready to do what they need to help people.”
Helping people is exactly what gave Fickes the desire to open a health foods store — when a friend took care of her.
“She brought me around to this whole different way of approaching food and approaching supplements in general,” Fickes said. “She kept me on my feet during a very difficult time.”
Coming through that experience and shifting to a vegan lifestyle, Fickes promised herself if she ever got to open a business, she would remember her friend and help other people who wanted to make change to a healthier lifestyle.
“The commitment is to stay here probably in the location we are in,” Fickes said. “The building is up for sale, so you can never say never, but we would like to stay where we are. Just staying on the path we’re on. It’s been a successful one.”