CLARKS SUMMIT — Sold!
As of Monday, Aug. 22, Neil Persad, of Lake Hopatcong, N.J., is the owner of Everything Natural, which has been a buzzing hub of activity in the downtown community for more than 30 years.
When the health food and gift shop was first put up for sale in February 2015, former co-owner Barry Kaplan assured customers that he was willing to wait however long it took to find just the right person to take over.
“It is so important to us that we find a buyer who will share the passion, the commitment, the values and the dedication to the mission and our customers” he said at that time.
About one-and-a-half years later, he expressed his confidence that Persad fits the bill.
“We couldn’t have found a better guy,” he said. “Or, a better guy couldn’t have found us.”
Persad, who has been doing business with the store as a vendor for about 15 years, said he has been in the food industry for most of his life. His wife, Hema Persad, owns Nature’s Harvest, a natural foods store in Blairstown, N.J.
He said during his time interacting with the Clarks Summit business and the local community over the years, he was impressed with the store’s selection, layout and the way it was run, and always enjoyed working with the customers. He looks forward to helping the business continue to succeed – through educational events, by adding high quality products to its stock and assisting customers in making healthy choices.
“This is my passion,” he said. “This is my dream. I’m following my dream.”
Everything Natural started out with those same ingredients – passion and a dream.
Kaplan, his wife Donna Kaplan and sister-in-law Michele Cooper first opened the store on June 10, 1985 at 412 S. State St. and later expanded into the space next door, occupying both lots. Then on Memorial Day weekend 2003, it moved down the road to the current location at 426 S. State St.
Kaplan said the most frequently asked questions, both when he first put the store on the market and when he began to introduce people to the new owner, involved the concept of “change” and how much of it will soon be implemented. But, he pointed out, change has played a major role in the business for its entire existence. Everything Natural is not the same as it was a year ago, nor was it the same then as the year before, and so on.
Persad agreed, saying the business will continue to “evolve,” just as is has for the past 31 years.
Kaplan said he plans to stay on for at least a year to help Persad with the transition and although his wife retired about a year-and-a-half ago, Cooper plans to continue working at the store indefinitely.
Persad confirmed he will continue to employ all of the approximately 25 current staff members. He added he plans to keep things “as is,” for now, but as opportunity comes for improvement, he’s willing to take it.
One change, or rather “improvement” Persad said he does hope to make in the store is to add a juice and smoothie bar, something Kaplan said had been on his own wish list.
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.