For Neil Persad, the new owner of Clarks Summit’s Everything Natural, purchasing the regional health food institution was just the latest step in a lifetime dedicated to wellness.
“I stand for healthy living; I am very passionate in what I do,” he said. “This is who I am. My lifestyle goes beyond eating, I strongly believe in protecting the environment. This is my element.”
Former store co-owners Barry and Donna Kaplan and Michele Cooper surprised the regional business community when they placed the store on the market in 2014. Everything Natural opened in June of 1984 and has always been headquartered in Clarks Summit.
“For over 30 years, we’ve endeavored to support people with tools, information and, of course, the products they need to live a healthier and happier life,” Barry Kaplan said. “Naturally, that focused on a lot of organic, natural foods that were cleanest and best available and uniting that with the most up-to-date and accurate information, with a mix of fun as well.”
Persad is no stranger to the health food industry, already owning another store, Nature’s Harvest, in Blairstown, New Jersey. He has also worked as a sales representative in the industry for more than 25 years.
“I would say that the people and the energy of the store are what attracted me,” he said. “This store has a strong energy. It’s a different feeling when you come to Clarks Summit.”
“We were hoping for a buyer who understood our store and Neil is the guy,” Kaplan added. “It is a perfect match. He shares the mission and will carry it forward. He has what it takes to take Everything Natural into the future.”
Part of Persad’s plans for Everything Natural include installing a juice and smoothie bar and offering prepared sandwiches and soups. He will also continue the store’s signature events, such as open houses, holistic health fairs and special guest speakers.
“In the health food industry, you keep evolving,” he said. “My plan is to help improve the quality of people’s lives through growth and education. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community better.”
Persad’s first event with Everything Natural will be a grand reopening as part of the store’s annual holistic health fair this January.
“I’m a person who wakes up every morning feeling great,” he said. “The way I was raised allowed me to never be sick in my life. That’s part of what drew me to the health food industry. I look forward to getting up and coming to work. It is natural for me to be here. It’s not a job, it’s my hobby.”
“It’s not the standard of life, it’s the quality of life that’s important,” Persad added. “Making a difference in people’s lives, that’s what we’re here for. The human connection is what is important.”