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River Song Natural Foods, Willow Creek

River Song Natural Foods is a natural foods store in the rural area of Willow Creek, California, and is the only natural food store within 32 miles. The store provides 100% natural foods and beverages, with 90% of those foods and beverages being organic.  Most of their products are from local producers and are of the highest quality. River Song Natural Foods strives to achieve total customer satisfaction by offering specials and welcoming customer feedback.

Owner Audrey Henschell had worked in the natural food business and has been a consumer of natural and organic foods for 13 years. In 2006, she and a friend decided to look into the possibility of opening her own natural food store. In October of 2006, they contacted Mike Nerat at the North Coast SBDC to gather information and advice on what they needed to do to start their own organic natural food store as business partners.

In 2007, Audrey’s friend decided not to go ahead with her plans to join Audrey in the business. It would have been easy for Audrey to drop the idea of starting the natural food store. However, she really felt that a natural food store was needed in the Willow Creek area for those who believe in the benefits of natural and organic foods. Audrey was determined to open the store by herself if need be but she had to be sure that it would be successful. She completed the Business Basics Workshop Series and received her certificate. With the help of the North Coast SBDC, she worked on her business plan and financial projections. The completed financial projections and business plan showed that her business had a very good chance for success. 

Once the decision was made to go ahead with the business, Audrey and SBDC worked together to make sure Audrey had all of the information she needed to meet the county and state requirements to legally run her business. Understanding all of the requirements, Audrey decided to go ahead with her business idea. Located on Hwy. 299 in Willow Creek, River Song Natural Foods opened for business in October 2007.

When River Song Natural Foods was ready to open for business, the local people and those passing through needed to be aware that there was a new store in town. The North Coast SBDC helped Audrey develop her marketing strategy, including design ideas for her store signage, business card, and logo. In the first two years since opening, River Song Natural Foods increased the number of products they offer by tenfold, their customer base has more than doubled, their sales have tripled, and they have created four new jobs. Development of River Song Natural Foods is ongoing. In the near future, Audrey plans to open a sandwich and juice bar in the store and will hire another employee. Once again, SBDC will be there to help her be successful in this new undertaking.

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"The SBDC is a great resource for all steps in making a business. Their classes are helpful, and their employees are knowledgeable, friendly, and great to work with. With the North Coast SBDC, I was able to open my business with the help of professionals that could always point me in the right direction," Audrey says of her interactions with the SBDC.

River Song Natural Foods can be contacted at 39057 Highway 299, P.O. Box 146, Willow Creek, California 95573 in Humboldt County or on the Web at www.Facebook.com