Healthy products for the body's outside are as important at Shop'n Kart as the ones that go inside.
The locally owned Ashland grocer earned Readers' Picks honors both for its skin- and body-care section and — in consecutive contests — for its supplements and herbs.
"Pricing is always a factor," says department manager Dawn Case.
Obtaining manufacturer discounts and promotional pricing, then passing the savings to store customers, is her constant goal, Case says. Department employees are trained to discuss not only product ingredients, but also manufacturers' ethics and carbon footprints, she says. Employees are available to assist shoppers from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, she adds.
Oregon-based Wild Carrot Herbals is among the most popular skin-care lines, including from the bulk section. Hand pumps fitted to gallon-sized containers of lotion, body wash, shampoo and conditioner allow customers to dispense into their own bottles and purchase by weight.
"We do quite a bit out of our bulk," says Case.
She assures customers that bulk items won't grow bacteria or molds because only empty vessels can be used in the section. Containers are weighed at a store register before being filled, then the package's weight is subtracted at the time of purchase. Shop'n Kart also sells an array of new bottles and jars.
Fish oils, green foods and probiotics continue to be the most popular dietary supplements, as well as anything touted on "The Dr. Oz Show," says Case.
"Anything he says, people buy."
With approximately 7,000 products, the inventory of herbs and supplements has grown by about 1,000 items annually over the past two years. Five years ago, the store at 2268 Ashland St. had a mere 4-foot shelf of vitamins.
"We're always adding to it," says Case.
Each week, the store places about 100 special customer orders, which come with additional discounts for the larger quantities of goods that aren't regularly stocked, she says.
Other skin-care favorites: Ashland Food Co-op; Gervais Day Spa and Salon, Medford
Other herbs and supplements favorites: Ashland Food Co-op; Medford Food Co-op