The Country Way Health Food Store

A new app and locally sourced products ensure this beloved wellness spot continues to be at the top of its game.

There's a welcoming feeling when you walk into The Country Way Health Food Store in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Their friendly staff, wide isles, airy, clean, and well-organized store has been a downtown institution since 1974. The trained staff take the time to learn what you’re looking for and are known for providing well-informed options to help to optimize your health. “Customer service is our number one priority,” says owner Shonna Saari.


(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

The store offers supplements as well as both fresh and frozen groceries, many of which are sourced locally in Algoma Country. The knowledgeable staff at The Country Way are able to navigate the wide selection of supplements to help customers make the best choices, offering both “on-the-floor” consultations to more in-depth consultations with one of the three registered nutritionists on staff. Shonna pointed out that she and her staff are continuously learning through online workshops and tutorials on the products they carry. “The industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay current.” In addition to supplements and groceries, the store also features a health and beauty section.

Many of their customers appreciate the walkable downtown location, and the store also offers parking both in front and back.

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

“We create relationships with our customers and we have developed a trust with them, they will share their struggles and symptoms and we try to help them. It is satisfying when they come back to tell you that you have made a difference in their lives,” said Shonna.

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

Shonna told me a bit of her background and how she came to own The Country Way. Originally from Chapleau, Ontario, she and her family decided to move to Sault Ste. Marie, because it reminded them of Finland. They lived there for a year prior to their move to the Sault and loved how in Finland, “they live very efficiently and are mindful of the environment.

The Sault reminded us of the waterways in Finland, and we love the Finnish culture here in the Sault. When we made the move, I started looking for work. I became a certified yoga instructor and began teaching figure skaters. In 2013, I walked into The Country Way and started working here soon after. In 2017, I approached the owners and offered to purchase the store. I come from a long family history of entrepreneurship, so I was very familiar with how to operate a business—and the support of my husband and parents who helped mentor me, made the transition smooth. With my already four years of experience working at the store, I became familiar with the industry and the customer base, as well as having a tight-knit staff who are like family and that makes coming to work a pleasure.

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

Shonna has made some changes to The Country Way Health Food Store since taking ownership. Some of the changes include rebranding, refreshing the outside of the building, expanding the floor space to accommodate more products, and enhancing locally sourced food products.

Locally sourced offerings at The Country Way include:

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

“I am passionate about helping other small businesses by providing space for their products and assisting in their success. We also carry locally sourced photography and jewelry. We try to go out of our way to bring something unique for our customers.” Said Shonna.  

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

During the pandemic, The Country Way Health Food Store has been open to customers. “We can only have five people in-store for now. Customers can also call us and shop over the phone and get curbside pick-up.:

Through a local developer and funding through the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, the store has also launched a new free app for its customers. "While we can’t yet accommodate purchases with the app, customers can get notifications about sales and receive customized special offers, get notifications of upcoming webinars, and recipes and more. There is also a points system, where you can earn and redeem them for products you love.” For more information and to download the app from Apple and Google Play click here.

The Country Way is a member of Health First Network and the Canadian Health Food Association, which means that many products can be ordered from the warehouse through the store website.

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(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

“We are grateful and lucky to have customers who are offering their support during the pandemic,” said Shonna. “This has meant positivity for us. By that, I mean that even though the pandemic has been difficult, in a way, it has brought us closer, made us resilient, and is forcing us to look within at a time of change and focus on the positive.”

The Country Way Health Food Store is just the kind of positive and welcoming business that makes the Soo a great place to both live and visit.

The Country Way Health Food Store

Owner Shonna Saari
79 Brock Street, Sault Ste. Marie
PH: (705) 949-1898
Email: info@thecountryway.ca
Web: thecountryway.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecountryway
Instagram: @countryway_ssm

About Sandra J. Trainor

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Sandra is a Freelance Marketing Consultant, specializing in assisting busy small businesses maximize sales and marketing ROI. Sandra recently returned to her hometown, after living and working in the Simcoe County area for more than 30 years. It was there where she developed her passion for local food and agriculture, while working with farmers, producers, farmers’ markets, retailers, and restaurateurs. She believes that food brings people together, no matter what their background and that food grown and produced close to us should be not only supported, but celebrated. In her spare time, Sandra loves to explore area lakes in her kayak and spending time at her cottage on the North Shore.

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