Company News

Sisters Supplement Careers with Retail Store

SALEM, Ohio – For sisters Kelli Miller and Kristi Johnson, a plan to “do something together” in their lives took on a new meaning last year when they decided to purchase The Supplement Station, 1139 E. Pidgeon Road in Salem.

The siblings had moved from the area to pursue their chosen careers – Miller as an accountant and Johnson as an obstetrician/gynecologist – but they planned to return to Columbiana County at some point and work together in some capacity.

While Johnson was looking around the internet one day, she spotted a building for sale that looked promising but found the owners were “pretty intent they wanted to sell the business and the building.”

So she called her sister and remembers saying, “This is going to sound weird, but do you want to buy a supplement business?” 

“So, we did it a little earlier than anticipated, because Kelli still had one in college,” she said.

Miller added, “God had a different plan.”

About the same time, Salem Regional Medical Center ended its maternity care services, leaving Johnson more time to devote to their new enterprise. Miller, meanwhile, left her accounting job of 29 years in Baltimore so she could help with the new store.

The first 16 months of ownership have been spent learning to understand the business and making changes in its merchandise.

“The store is much broader now than it was,” Miller says.

There are eight employees, with Johnson working some part of each day around her medical practice. Miller recently returned to an accounting position in addition to being on-hand at the store on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to a full line of supplemental supplies, the store has expanded to offer a wide variety of products.

“What we are trying to create is a wellness store, not a health food store. Customers can come and have lunch with a friend and really take care of themselves in a truly holistic way,” Miller says.

The sisters have added the Back Home Market & Cafe at the rear of the building, where diners can build their own garden salads and sandwiches. Each day, homemade soups and a signature side salad are on the menu, with a “grab and go” option newly available for those who need a takeout lunch.

Also on the menu is a full line of smoothies featuring everything from fruits and vegetables and rich chocolates to proteins and supplements.

“We must have tried a hundred smoothies [before choosing the ones to offer]. We want everything to be wholesome and delicious,” Johnson says.

Supplement Station also features pies made by Betty Erb, owner of Betty’s Pie Wagon of Columbiana. Open a year in the neighboring community, Erb says, “I like to bake pies. People kept saying, ‘You should sell this,’ but I didn’t take them seriously.”

After selling her pies at some events and taking a class focusing on the gifts people have and that “your gift will make room for you,” she decided to take the plunge and start her pie business.

Erb makes all her pie fillings from scratch, noting the basic apple and cherry pies are still her customers’ favorites, along with a peanut butter streusel.

Free wifi is available to customers of the cafe.

Customers can also purchase Boar’s Head meats and cheeses at the store’s deli, as well as prepackaged items such as natural sugars, local honey and syrup, jellies and fruits, condiments, and a line of grass-fed beef, chicken and pork.

“We’re offering healthier choices,” Miller says, adding these foods work well into the keto diet or other more healthful diets.

The sisters work with more than 30 local farmers, bakers, vendors and artisans who cosign, rent space or provide items not already made in the store. 

Metal Masters offers custom metal pieces, Riverside Workshop custom wood pieces, Pammy’s Pandas homemade chocolate and Kards by Kim gift cards, to name just a few. 

Baby gifts, yard games, candles, diffusers for essential oils, jewelry and home decor can all be found in the wide open aisles.

Customers who have always come for supplements are not disappointed, according to the owners, who says a full line of vitamins and supplements, such as Now, Pure, Mega, New Chapter and Ancient Nutrition, are in stock.

The health and beauty room features essential oils including a recently added organic ingestible line.

A beginner’s class in using essential oils is being planned.

Skin care, soaps, lotions and even a pet-care line that includes CBD have been hand-selected by Johnson and Miller, who use the products in their own households.

As part of their desire to encompass their customers’ entire lifestyles, Johnson and Miller have sponsored events at the business, including a cookie decorating workshop, painting parties, birthday parties, fundraisers and a health fair, with more planned. 

Yard games are available every Friday and Saturday at the pavilion in the rear of the  business, where customers can have ice cream and play games.

The yard games are available for weddings, and the business also makes cakes, as well as meat and cheese trays for events. 

At 6 p.m. on Sunday, a youth Bible study is held for those from 14 to 17 years old, with all materials and refreshments provided at no charge.

Miller says they have seen God’s influence throughout the purchase and expansion of their new enterprise, saying, “We have been blessed in many ways, with great vendors, great customers, great employees. We love Jesus a lot. We want people to know that. Every person God has put into our path, we’ve had this in common.”

Pictured: The Supplement Station in Salem has been expanded into a wellness store by its owners Kristi Johnson and Kelli Miller, who also have busy careers as a doctor and accountant, respectively. 

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.