Ashwin Muthuvenkataraman and his wife, Saritha, have owned Longview’s Country Village Nutrition Shoppe for less than a year. But the couple already has plans to reinvigorate the long-time local vitamin and health food store.
They want to release an app that customers can use to buy their products online, and they envision a drive-thru lane at the store, where people can pick up vitamins quickly when they aren’t feeling well.
“We are bringing (the store) up to modern times,” Muthuvenkataraman said.
The couple’s modernization efforts started last month, when they moved County Village into a new location that will increase its visibility and draw in more customers, he said. The store now occupies the former Jansen Flower shop on Washington Way.
“We wanted to offer a better location here, and an opportunity to bring in new products,” Muthuvenkataraman said.
The building, which has windows wrapping most of the way around the store front, is about 1,000-square-feet larger than County Village’s old store on Vandercook Way, across from Mattress Superstore.
The windows at the new location were a major selling point for Muthuvenkataraman.
“When I saw the whole section of windows, it flashed in my mind: exposure,” Muthuvenkataraman said.
He used the windows to showcase rows and rows of vitamins and supplements, which can easily be seen from the road.
“It invites people in. People are curious and want to know what is in the shop,” he said.
Situated right in front of the Triangle Shopping Center, the Washington Way building also offered a location with more traffic than Vandercook, he said.
It’s a win-win for the area because it draws the mall’s customers to the vitamin store, and the vitamin store customers to the mall, said Gayle Acker, store manager.
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“The curiosity (of customers) is unbelievable. … We’ve brought the corner to life again,” Acker said.
The Washington Way store had sat vacant for about two years after Jansen Flower moved to a shop on Vandercook Way in 2017.
The Muthuvenkataramans completely renovated the inside of the store, converting the old flower shop to an open floor retail shop. They updated the heating, cooling and lighting systems to be more “green” and energy efficient, he said.
With the natural lighting and new floor plan, it’s a “whole new perspective” for shoppers, Acker said. “The response from customers has been overwhelming. They walk in and go, ‘Wow!’ ”
Country Village opened in Longview in the mid-1970s, and Muthuvenkataraman and his wife took over ownership of the shop last October. The couple lives in Seattle.
Muthuvenkataraman, 44, used to work in information technology. His wife worked as a pharmacist.
“We got tired of coming home from work and still working,” he said. So they set out to open their own business, where they could have more flexibility.
They first opened a Chevron retailer in Issaquah, but later the couple decided to expand their business portfolio. They wanted to buy a specialty vitamin and health shops like Country Village because “this is what we live,” Muthuvenkataraman said.
“At home, we don’t have a microwave. We cook all our meals on a gas stove and we eat all organic,” he said. “This is what we live and believe in, so we started looking for our own store.”
With its move to Washington Way complete, Country Village will have a grand opening for its new location on Sept. 5-7. Then, the staff will start in on Muthuvenkatraman’s other plans for the business.
He said he expects a drive-thru to be ready by the holiday season.
“A lot of people are excited about the change,” he said.