When I met with Liz McCarty from Zenith supplies last week, I asked her about essential oils and fragrance oils. I’ve heard a lot about them, and have used them in homemade soaps, but I had no idea what the difference was.
From the outside, Zenith Supplies in unassuming, and it’s hard to tell what is being sold behind the plain black sign and simple red storefront.
“A lot of it is very tactile,” she said. “You want to be able to smell things and try things.”
Now, the store services a variety of clientele, from massage professionals, DIY and crafters, and the medical marijuana industry.
“We get a lot of folks who do canibus medicated lotions and oils,” McCarty said. “With it becoming legal, people are running more businesses and really helping people who are in pain, we’re glad to see that business growing.”
While everyone else was noticing a decline in business as the economy slid into the recession, Zenith was still going strong. McCarty thinks that has to do with an increased interest in making things from scratch.
The store has a website, but it is more for information, McCarty said.
“[It’s about] being able to talk to a human being, smell the stuff, try it out, buy a small amount, all of our packaging and bottling options,” she said. “A lot of people just get really inspired coming in here.”
Despite the new online competition, McCarty said new interest in DIY and more people training in massage therapy has kept the business successful.
In the beginning, Griffis worked hard to establish a solid customer base, and that’s something they still work on. McCarty said they hope the personal experience will keep customers coming back instead of switching to online shopping.
Zenith has been at it’s current location for 20 years. What was once an old bank, has been turned into an open shopping space, with art-deco molding running along the tops of the walls and egyptian style paintings throughout the store.
This is a good area for a store like Zenith, according to McCarty. There are a lot of new-age shops and craft stores around so the shop fits in with it’s neighbors.
The employees do not work on commission. McCarty said it is better that they don’t work in a sales driven environment because each employee works with the products they sell and they can help customers with their product knowledge.
“We’re actually here as a resource for people,” she said. “I think that’s what really drew me to work here, I like working for a company that has heart and is making a difference for folks.”
In a world of ‘big box stores’ McCarty said their success is a testament to the store.
“They’re putting in a light rail, they’re putting in condos right behind us,” she said. “But we’re not going anywhere.”