Earth Goods Natural Foods, in the beautiful southern Black Hills, was opened in August of 1996 in Hot Springs, South Dakota. In this traditional town of retirees, ranchers and families, owners Jackie and Rich Gericke, who had relocated to the area the previous year, were suffering from the lack of a health food store. The two grocery stores, in the town of approximately 4300 people, worked well for most folks but lacked the more specialized foods and organic produce found in natural foods stores and furthermore there was no outlet for quality supplements. The only other health food store was over an hour away. Recognizing the need and realizing that the area was growing, they decided to follow a long-held dream and open their own store.
They first opened on a busy Main Street corner in a rented 600 sq. ft. space. On a shoestring budget, they did all of their own remodeling and bought all second hand fixtures, including a cooler and freezer. They saved as much as possible for merchandise as they felt strongly that from the moment they opened the doors, the store should be fully stocked. After about a year in that location, they purchased a charming old building with original oak floors and tin ceiling. Again, Rich did the extensive renovation, and with the help of many friends, they moved the store in one weekend. The new location is about twice the size, and although it is not in as prominent a location as before, this has not been a significant factor. They now have much better parking and are easy to locate.
Rich and Jackie also feel that their success is due to their commitment to carrying only the highest quality products possible and in being a source for continued learning. They offer occasional seminars and sampling, a variety of free, printed third party literature, and will often help customers do research, both in their extensive library and also on the Internet. They also offer, every Tuesday, an organic produce box that always contains the absolute freshest and highest quality organic produce at unbelievable prices.