A business with a purpose - that's what Zedrick Clark sees in Nature's Food Market. But it's more than a business, it's a lifestyle rooted in an early discovery of Native American blood in his ancestry. That's what started Zedrick down this path. But what compels him to stay in the food industry?
As a teenager, he studied the lore of a people who knew how to live off the land; he learned about herbs as an alternative to medicine. "When we live our lives according to nature's design," he explains, "it really is better for our bodies and our world.” Although his immediate family had a typical meat and potatoes diet, Zed chose a mostly vegetarian diet.
At 18 years old, Zedrick went to work in a vitamin warehouse, working his way up to managing a retail natural food store a few years later. At a time when the organic food movement was gaining momentum, he saw the natural lifestyle as something to practice for ethical and social reasons. In this environment he learned good eating habits that went beyond vegetables and vitamins. But his curiosity, his desire for knowledge, led him further.
He became an agent for one of the country’s largest vitamin manufacturers and there Zedrick learned about the science behind vitamins and supplements, and about manufacturing methods. In visiting hundreds of retail stores across the country, his path became clear. He wanted to own a natural food store.
One of Zed’s wholesale customers, Nature’s Food Market, was started in the 1970’s by a young Amish man working with his parents and siblings. Mr. Schlabach got his start selling vitamins in a renovated chicken house. Moving to downtown Berlin, Ohio, the store thrived in a community that valued natural ways, providing vitamins and a host of other natural products.
Nature’s had become Zedrick’s favorite stop for his personal shopping. Now married with two young children, he was ready to put down roots. He did what came naturally to a man whose faith is an integrated part of his life; he asked for divine guidance. Within hours found himself in Nature’s Food Market, where the owner was offering to sell him the store.
“My jaw almost hit the floor,” said Zedrick. “I knew this was the one I wanted.” In a very short time, a deal was signed and in December 2003 Zedrick purchased the store.
With the chance to realize his vision at hand, Zedrick poured his heart into taking a business that was already good, and making it great. In two years time he made significant progress in the growth of his business, and that’s when opportunity struck in the form of a disaster.
An early morning fire destroyed the 100 year old building that housed his business in January 2006. Orange flames and billowing black smoke coming out of your business would cause many people to despair. But with the ruins still smoking, Zedrick was scouring the village for alternative locations. Within three weeks the store opened in a small temporary space.
In September of that year, Nature’s Food Market re-opened in a new building. “We doubled our size and doubled our expenses, but fortunately, we also doubled the number of people we could serve,” Zedrick said. Nature’s takes seriously the people they serve. “The community we support is made up of people who are changing the world.”
Zedrick’s passion is obvious when talking about his products. “Without a doubt, the locally made products are my favorites. This community produces some of the best quality natural products such as locally made cheese, chemical free spelt bread from Berlin Natural Bakery, puffed grain, and even a local herbal extract company.”
On top of carrying the best quality vitamins and supplements, Nature’s carries a full line of natural and organic foods and an impressive array of bulk foods. The fresh ground peanut butter and bulk honeys are customer favorites.
Zedrick served as president and board member of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, he has visited, consulted or trained over 500 retail stores in his career. He currently serves as the president for the Berlin Main Street Merchants.
It was his passion for living life according to nature’s design that got Zedrick Clark into his business. But it’s the stories from people whose lives are changed that keep him there. After all, he says, “Wellness is contagious.”
A Business With Purpose: Courtesy of Berlin Natural Bakery and Mark Weaver
Address: 4727 US 62, Berlin, Ohio 44610
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8-6, Sat. 8-5 **NEW WINTER HOURS**