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Secret Shopper Report: Newcastle

A hidden gem

Our Secret Shoppers are scouring the highways and byways for the best of GB’s health food and natural lifestyle independents. Giving marks out of 10 in each of five sections, our shopper went to the heart of Tyne & Wear to see how this city centre health store measures up.

The Better Retailing Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food institute and reward excellence in independent health store retailing. The winner is selected from the stores visited by the Better Retailing secret shoppers throughout the year.

Store location: Newcastle
Stress support

First impressions

The store is situated in the heart of the city centre within a popular historic market. It is very easy to find and it really stands out thanks to its bright colouring and informative window display. The store’s door is open and this provides additional welcome insight into what can be found in store.

Verdict: 7/10

Store layout

The store is bright, airy, clean and very easy to navigate – there is plenty of room to move around. Although it is a small store, it offers a wide range of products from a number of leading ranges. As I first enter the store, I come across a vast food and drink section including many free-from food and snack options. The counter and the store’s owner are located in the main part of the store where the supplement ranges are. Some examples of the many ranges stocked include A.Vogel, Solgar, PharmaNord, Natures Aid and BetterYou. The store also offers a good selection of natural bodycare and eco-household options.

Verdict: 8/10

Personal attention

When I first enter the store, I move straight to looking at the food section so I don’t immediately come across the counter or the store’s owner. However, when I move to the supplements section, I’m greeted by a big smile and a cheery hello. I don’t feel rushed in any way and enjoy browsing. After a few minutes, I’m mindful I need some help to make a decision and ask the store owner for some advice on what she would recommend for stress support. She immediately moves towards the A.Vogel tincture range and consults a herb guide to double check what would be best. I let her know I already have Passiflora from the range so I’m thinking a supplement might be a better option to complement the tincture. She recommends going for a high potency B vitamin complex supplement and offers two potency options. I go for the lowest high potency option which is a little more reasonably priced.

Verdict: 8/10

Check out

The check out service was very good. The store owner has a chat with me about my supplement choice and gives a friendly warning that it may turn my urine yellow! She explains that the body expels what it doesn’t need so if my urine looks brighter, it’s nothing to worry about. I also enquire about a natural eczema treatment they have in stock and whether customers find this helpful. She says they generally do but recommends I try a sample first to see if it would be beneficial to purchase. They don’t have any samples in store currently, however, so she advises popping in another time to collect one. I don’t enquire about whether the store has a website as I’ve already accessed that prior to my visit to check the store’s location. The website outlines the store can order items in for collection if they don’t stock something that a customer requires.

Verdict: 9/10

Overall impression

It’s a small but well stocked store and I’m impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the store’s owner. I’ll definitely return to the store but would maybe ring ahead if I had a request for something they don’t typically stock so I could take advantage of their order and collect service. It’s a local store that I’m glad I’ve come across and one I’d definitely recommend to others.

Verdict: 8/10

Total marks: 40/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...