Almost Two Decades Later, Special Nutrition Still Lives Up to Its Name
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
“Special orders are our pleasure.” In a landscape of mainstream conglomerates with all the same generic products on nondescript white shelves, the idea of a store that customizes the retail experience around the preferences of each individual shopper might sound unrealistic. But for Louise Mastro, a longtime Sarasota resident and owner of Special Nutrition, this is not only her motto—it’s the lifeblood of how she has operated her business for almost two decades.
When a red and yellow storefront on Stickney Point Road opened its doors for the first time 18 years ago, Mastro had a three-tiered vision in mind: to offer unmatched customer service, to ensure the lowest prices in town, and to make special orders available so that people could access whatever they need. It’s a humble, down-to-earth business model, but this approach is exactly the reason Special Nutrition has continued to flourish even as the major health food corporations become more and more ubiquitous.
“Our selection, prices and customer service are second to none in Sarasota, and from the onset, I have worked hard to maintain this commitment,” enumerates Mastro. “Our informed and educated staff is trained to special order any item we don’t have in-stock that a customer requests, then we always keep that item in-stock going forward. Most commercial health food stores don’t provide that option, but this is how we established our customer base.”
In fact, this simple method has gained so much traction that Special Nutrition recently expanded to a second location on Bahia Vista Street which has now been operational for about a year-and-a-half. This particular storefront, called Special Nutrition – Bulk ‘n Natural, is known for its variety of both common and uncommon bulk items such as flours, grains, nuts, sugars, oats and other baking essentials. Whereas its counterpart on Stickney Point has earned a reputation as the area’s largest purveyor of nutritional supplements. In addition, all items can be shipped nationwide, and mail orders over $75 are shipped free-of-charge.
As her above and beyond efforts would communicate, Mastro is devoted to the wellness and satisfaction of the people in this community who have walked through her doors for almost 20 years. “At Special Nutrition, we appreciate our customers tremendously,” she adds. “But we also want to instill in the broader public context an emphasis on what it means to support our local small businesses. This is a culture that I encourage we develop here in Sarasota because it effects positive change for the economy, the business owners and the customers too.”
Louise Mastro has owned and operated Special Nutrition for 18 years. Her first location is at 1882 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, and her second location, Special Nutrition – Bulk ‘n Natural, is at 3737 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota. For more information, call 941-929-0884, email SpecialNutrition@verizon.net or visit SpecialNutrition.net.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features practical tips for embracing an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.
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