Whilst many shops in the city centre now closed due to the lockdown, those selling essential items are still very much open. One of those stores is Healthy Route on Silver Street.
Selling a wide selection of food, hygiene, health and other essential items, Healthy Route has been part of the city centre for over 50 years. In this week’s BID Leicester Spotlight we caught up with owner, Gary, to find out more about their stock and the secret to their longevity.
Healthy Route has remained open so far through the lockdown offering essential supplies, how would you describe your range at the shop for those who’ve never visited?
Health stores were specifically listed in the government’s early list of outlets that can remain open during the “lockdown” period, as it was felt we offer a range of “specialist” products that can not be sourced from conventional supermarkets, in particular our ranges of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free products. But also our vegan and vegetarian ranges are in high demand. We also have a vast range of supplements and herbal remedies that can help maintain or improve immune health (all of which are in high demand at present). After all, health is in our name! .
What are some of your favourite items that you sell?
Our current big selling items are strong bread flour, yeast, herbal teas, plant based sausages etc and agave syrup (as a natural sugar). We are also selling more personal hygiene products, including ladies sanitary products (organic, unbleached cotton), toothpaste (including fluoride-free) and shampoos (without petro-chemicals in them). On the supplement front, Vitamin C and Vitamin D (we probably have the best range of Vitamin D products in the county) and Echinacea are all selling remarkable well.
What times are you remaining open during this period?
As part of our social distancing, most of our staff have been furloughed, so we are open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm. It’s limited hours to our normal 9am to 5.30pm but things tend to slow down after 1pm at the moment.
Healthy Route has been around in Leicester since the 1950s, what would you put its longstanding success down to?
Throughout our trading in Leicester, we have always adapted and evolves to fit our consumers tastes and trends. A few years ago, it was clear that the rise in wanting vegan options would change not only our food offering but would also mean supplements and herbal remedies too. Most of the supplements we now sell are vegan, so suitable for restricted diets, for those with vegan religious beliefs and those who just want a “clean” additive-free product. Brands like Terranova and Viridian offer highly sophisticated supplements sourced from natural ingredients. Other brands like Natures Aid and Lifeplan (based just down the road at Lutterworth), offer great value for money. One of our great strengths is that fact we have visited most of our supplement brand factoies. We know how the products are made and have direct contact if there are any issues. Our real key is that there is always some to talk to in our store and we will do our best to answer your question and find the product you are after.
Would you recommend people visiting Healthy Route for items they may be struggling to get at the supermarket?
Why yes! As mentioned above, we have the flexibility to source products when larger retailers can’t. And if we can’t get the product you want, we will try to give you an alternative.
What plans do you have for the store after this difficult period is over?
I feel we have a great store in a good central location (on Silver Street, in the heart of Leicester city), very close to the Clocktower, we have a great range of products and are introducing new products continually. Recently we rolled out a loyalty card and this is something I would like to see grow. Although I am not a fan of on line shopping, I have to accept that others are and see an online presence as Healthy Route’s next big step.
Where can people find out more about you?
Our BID Spotlight features are brought to you in collaboration with BID Leicester.