Imagine being the operator of a natural foods store on one of the busiest commercial corridors in Athens, Ohio. Just as you feel that sales are picking up after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, another challenge to your customer base hits your retail business. Road construction on Stimson Avenue — down to one lane and only headed west.
Remaining amazingly upbeat, Kevin and Carrie Tidd, owner-operators of The Farmacy Natural Foods store soldier on. As Kevin explains: “we love our business, our customers and our community. We will figure out how to keep going serving the health needs of our shoppers and creating employment opportunities for our workers.”
The Farmacy is a cornerstone of the retail community. The Farmacy was established in 1970 by previous owners Tom and Sue Zano, as a small place to buy previously hard-to-find items like brown rice, old-fashioned rolled oats, and dried fruit and nuts. True innovators in a rural college town, The Farmacy started during the infancy of what is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry led by corporate natural food supermarkets and manufacturers. But The Farmacy has always stayed true to the Athens spirit, responsive to their customers, and supportive of an ever growing local food economy. Carrie reflects, “the Stimson Avenue construction makes it hard for our customers and our fellow business owners. We hope the community can learn to adjust and still support us. It’s the small, local businesses that make our community thrive.”
When the Tidds took over 10 years ago, they came with a wealth of combined 30 years’ experience, working at Mother Earth Foods in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It was always Kevin’s dream to own their own store. He shares “here at The Farmacy, we focus on providing the natural products necessary to maintain your health, and pride ourselves on being a source of information as well as fuel of the well-being of people all across Appalachia.”
Like many retailers, navigating the COVID pandemic has not been easy. They have made changes along the way, but are currently open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and on Sundays for noon to 5 pm. They also starting offering free local delivery services in Athens and the Plains, recognizing that many customers needed new services. Free contactless and curbside service is also available with a phone call. Deli hours also continue from 11am-3pm Monday through Saturday featuring smoothies, grab and go hot specials, soup, sandwiches and sides are available all day, every day. Many prepared meals, soups and salads are also available, stop by or call to check out the daily selection.
Along with offering free delivery since March 2020, The Farmacy has provided over $2,000 of free groceries and supplements to community members via their Compassionate Community Project, the Giving Tree. Funded entirely by contributions from customers and community members who have “tipped” them for delivery and service, and donations for hand sewn masks by our family, this Pay it Forward program offers a platform for community members to share compassion.
The store will remain open at 28 W. Stimson Ave. in Athens throughout all the various construction phase through the end of November 2021. For more info the Farmacy is on instagram @the_farmacy as well as Face book and www.thefarmacynaturalfoods.com.
Carrie and Kevin wrap up by saying, “It feels critical at this time- now, more than ever- that we come together , and lift each other up, supporting our small businesses and operations who have been a lifeline of continuity, familiarity and renewal to small communities. We truly are all #inthistogether.”
Community Update by Director of Programs, Leslie Schaller