Altogether now: Doing the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new Healthway Natural Foods store are (from left) Bill Pakosz

Mayor helps Healthyway officially open new digs

A greatly-expanded space for locally-produced foods was the star attraction at the official opening Saturday of the new Healthyway Natural Foods store in downtown Campbell River.

Mayor Andy Adams and three generations of the Pakosz family participated in the ribbon-cutting for the new store at 1121 Cedar Street, across from the community centre and only a short walk from their former location at 1270 Dogwood (near the present Pioneer Home Hardware).

At 5,500 square feet the new store is more than double the size of the former location, with more space for fresh fruit and vegetables, various meat and dairy products and a wide array of health-related products – most of them sourced from around Vancouver Island – as well as the full range of nutritional supplements the business had become known for. The new building, which added on to a soon-gutted old building, also includes a new second floor occupied by a yoga studio as well as Healthyway’s administrative offices, and the store’s main floor includes an alcove expected to become a takeout window for fast fresh and healthy food items such as smoothies, sandwiches and salads – especially ones using local organic vegetables.

The business was bought by Bill and Catherine Pakosz about 23 years ago when it focussed on supplements but gradually it began adding organic products and then locally-made food products to the point that the new store now is mostly groceries, including items like environmentally-friendly cleansers, fair-trade coffee, a large variety of meats from locally-raised animals and honey from two local suppliers – but it still has a large corner devoted to supplements.

The family-owned business now is co-managed by their son Will Pakosz, 48, and his wife Donna Pakosz, with Will having worked there about 20 years and Donna 14.

It now employs about 24 people, up from 18 at the former location.

Adams wished the business success and thanked city staff for helping it happen, noting the redevelopment at a great location was aided by the city’s tax exemption for new downtown developments; the building complies with new building code requirements such as LED lights and having a catchment basin for heavy rainfalls.

Bill Pakosz thanked the city for its help, and credited his wife Catherine plus Will and Donna as well as son Martin, a carpenter who helped with construction – but especially he thanked the customers and staff who had helped the business grow over the years.

“We feel really blessed to be here,” added Will Pakosz, referring both to the new location and the growth of the business.

They both thanked the people of Campbell River, with Will saying “people choosing to shop here is why we exist.”

The opening-day ribbon-cutting was performed by Adams and Zosia Pakosz, the eight-years-old daughter of Will and Donna, reflecting that the business likely will remain family-run for the foreseeable future too.

In an interview, Will noted the family had been looking for years for a larger location but couldn’t get in to the plazas because of the non-compete clauses of other tenants so the site downtown was especially attractive with its higher volume of pedestrians; the store had a sort of gradual opening before its official day and Will said they have already noted a higher volume of pedestrian customers, though its approximately 40 parking spots also are often full.

“We’re trying to provide healthy options,” said Will, explaining that their customers will go out of their way to get specialty products that are gluten-free, organic and from local meat-producers and processers who treat animals humanely, such as eggs coming only from free-run and free-range hens.

“Being more in the heart of town will allow us to express ourselves more as a community-minded store too,” said Will, noting such things as a recent fund-raising day held for the John Howard Society’s KidStart program. The store opening also was welcomed by local producers and suppliers of an array of food and beverage and other products, more than a dozen of whom participated in the official opening.

John Twigg

Special for The Mirror