By CRAIG BARRY
KENNESAW, Ga. — Over the years, stores like GNC, Vitamin World, and The Vitamin Shoppe have become increasingly popular. These are health friendly stores where a person can find practically any vitamin, supplement, protein, fitness aid, digestion, or weight control related product.
Luckily, Kennesaw has enjoyed the benefit of having these stores locally, but what store is the best option for each consumer trying to get fit? Well, that can depend the needs and preferences, and each one may meet them to a different standard. If you don’t know what you’re doing, this can be a trial and error process.
You do not have to be a ‘health nut’ to shop at one of these stores either. People of all shapes, sizes, and colors, come here to find out about health and take care of their bodies.
“I have all kinds of customers walk in here for so many different reasons,” said Fassel Abrham, employee at The Vitamin Shoppe. “There is no particular age for people shopping, I get just as many senior citizens in here looking for things to help their skin as I do teenagers with acne problems, and often times I recommend the same product.”
So basically, it really depends on what you’re looking for in a health store: price, quantity, or customer service.
Stores like GNC, Vitamin World, and The Vitamin Shoppe have any health product you could be searching for. GNC is the biggest chain in Georgia, with over 80 locations statewide, and three in Kennesaw: one on Wade Green Road northwest, one on Cobb Parkway north, and one on Ernest W. Barrett Parkway.
To an experienced health store shopper, or a ‘health nut’, the GNC on Barrett Parkway would be considered the Wal-Mart of health stores. To shop here is to risk being labeled a mainstream-consumer, or brand-name buyer. That being said, it does probably provide the most consistently broad variety of choices in products, and perhaps the most convenient shopping experience for the consumer looking for a ‘one-stop-shop’ type of vitamin store.
GNC carries vitamin, A through Z, multi-vitamins for men and women, minerals, fish oil, antioxidants, and sexual health products, plus protein supplements, weight control pills, personal care lotions and creams, food and drinks. According to employee Thomas Threadgill, the vitamins, various supplements, and protein and fitness products are typically their most popular items.
While this chain does excel in its variety and stock availability, it does have a few minor set-backs native to corporate-owned mega chain stores. This particular GNC located on Barrett Parkway in the Towne Center Mall at Cobb, is rather crowded upon entry. The abundance of products for sale here actually over-crowd the aisles you walk through while you shop.
For someone who is new to this field, the variety can be slightly overwhelming. Vitamins, supplements and weight control pills wait in ambush everywhere you turn, with endless disclaimers and warnings of caution hidden in all the fine print, and side-effects as far as the eye can see. Some of the side effects are actually worse than what the pill was intended for in the first place.
If you do not know what you are doing when it comes to this kind of stuff, you will need to seek advice from one of the employees working there. Unfortunately, GNC does not contain the most knowledgeable ‘professionals’ in the field. Mostly young people and amateur trainers work here.
Even employee Threadgill, admits, “This is kind of the type of place someone goes to be hired if they’re in college and are interested in becoming a nutritionist, or maybe a personal trainer, and sometimes just the stereotypical muscle-head who does this as a side obsession.”
However, he said, “Occasionally you’ll get someone who is recently graduated and is starting out as a trainer, so they will have a little bit of experience, but that’s usually as far as it goes.”
Prices and Website
GNC’s prices are generally fair, compared to other health stores in the area. This is one of the benefits of being a larger corporate-owned chain. If you want to look at its product prices before going to the store, you can check them out here. The website is thorough, simple to use, and contains every product you would find at any locations. If you want to order offline instead, you have that option as well.
Vitamin World is also a corporate-owned company, with a branch in the Town Center Mall at Cobb on Barrett Parkway also. It carries everything GNC does, as listed above, in addition to pet products.
The biggest difference between these two stores would be the experience for the shopper. While this is a big company like GNC, the employees at this location offer a much personable environment for the newer, less experienced, vitamin store consumer. For the shyer shopper, who is seeking guidance to become more health conscious, this would be the preferred choice.
“Customer service is my number one priority,” said Vitamin World employee Jordan Brown.
Customers may need help with a health concern that is a sensitive issue for them, and it can be hard to talk about. So when customers walk in to Vitamin World, Brown wants them to look at this as “a friendly environment where people want to help people, not as a place where we just want to sell you something for money.”
“It’s not uncommon that GNC will send a customer over to me, just because they know we are a little bit more knowledgeable when it comes to this stuff,” Brown said.
Prices and Website
Vitamin World also has a website, at Vitaminworld.com. Here you can find out more about their products and prices without driving to their location. Generally, its prices are equal or similar to GNC’s, and they are almost just as well equipped. Although, you can only view the general price on its website; the store offers a customer rewards card discount that works similar to a Kroger or CVS card, and is free of charge. This card will get you a discount on many products, and access to some great sales, but you can only see the member’s price inside the stores.
The Vitamin Shoppe
Last, and quite possibly the least, would be the Vitamin Shoppe, located on Ernest W. Barrett Parkway. This vitamin store, also corporate-owned, is almost a combination of Vitamin World and GNC.
While this store does give off a mom and pop vibe, unfortunately this is not the case. It too has a fully stocked arsenal of health products just like its competitors, but it seems like it is guarded by a hungry salesman more than it is accompanied by a helpful nutritionist. The sales staff are fairly knowledgeable in their respective field of health fitness, but not overly friendly.
Prices and Website
The prices remain consistent with its competitors, and its website, is easy to use. Here you also can research the products and prices at home, if you do not want to rely on the customer service, which would not be advised.