Walking into the office of Ken Vannucci, the first thing that hits you is the scent of fine coffee, as he fresh-grinds a quick batch before brewing it right at his desk. With 9 brands of Fair Trade and/or organic beans in the London Drugs lineup, it’s just one area where Ken’s green passion and product expertise shine.
“Educated customers want to buy ‘green’ when it comes to food,” Vannucci explains, as he steps up to a shelf merchandising diagram on the wall, “Look, we have Kashi, Nature’s Path, Annie’s Naturals, New World Natural Foods… all right next to the traditional brands. And check out these coffees. Ethical Bean, Commercial Drive and Salt Spring are all roasted right here in the Lower Mainland. You won’t find that at other drug stores.”
Being Merchandise Manager for OTC, Vitamins, Diet and Nutrition, Grocery, Baby and Paper products puts even more on his plate, including herbal and homeopathic products.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a product like Melatonin to help you sleep. But maybe you want to try something like Traditional Medicinals Organic ‘Nighty Night’ Tea first, and see if a more natural remedy works for you. Or try a combination of the two to use less medication. And if you have any questions, our pharmacists are right there to answer them. Basically, our role should be to help people do a little better overall. And if natural and organic is part of that for you, we have options.”
So does buying with all these ‘green’ variables in mind make his job more difficult? Vannucci just smiles.
“Sure, it would be easier to stock only traditional big brands. And we obviously love those brands, too. But I think giving people choices like organic, natural or gluten-free is part of the positive impact the grocery section can have on peoples‘ health.”
If that all sounds a bit green and fuzzy for a mainstream retailer, Ken’s 20 years of East-Vancouver practicality quickly puts it in real terms.
“There’s no question we are here to make a profit, but London Drugs management really supports me in longer-term decisions to do the right thing. The bottom line is, I want to give people a chance to buy better stuff without having to mortgage the house.”
We’ll raise a cup of fair-trade java to that.
For more of Ken’s Real Green Deal realism, you can follow him on twitter @KootenayBorn