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  • Writer's pictureOnita Morgan-Edwards

Entrepreneurship: The Nurtured Mind, Body, and Spirit

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

A conversation with Mr. Rick Poole of Natural Foods + Juice Caboose

Mr. Rick Poole is a hard person to catch up with, but after tracking him down (with the help of people who know him), we sat down to talk about his business at the Natural Foods + Juice Caboose in Kettering.

“I don't know if you have heard this quote from Thomas Edison,” Poole says, “but when you go back and look at history and what was happening in the early 1900s, Edison said, ‘The doctors of the future would give no medicine but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame and diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.’” The quote may have been first reported by The Washington Post in late 1903.

That’s what we are about at Natural Foods + Juice Caboose; to add value to people's lives by educating and sharing how we can address the cause and prevention of disease.

“I follow about five doctors,” said Poole. “I wanted the purest [product] lines with no excipients, fillers, or binders. It is amazingly pure.”

The store carries Premier Research Labs’, My Body Symphony, and Mother Earth Labs products, among other vitamins and supplements. Mr. Poole has hosted his radio show, Health is Wealth, since 1996. “We are a miracle,” he announced on his first Facebook Live video of the radio show.

Dr. McLeod, a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), a natural path doctor who has a PhD in nutrition calls in from Florida every Tuesday.

Natural Foods + Juice Caboose (Kettering)

Poole points to the sign above the counter in the Kettering store, where earlier he’d spoken to customers. “This is where healing and rejuvenation begins,” he said, “because it really does. We have whole food supplements that no other health food store in southern Ohio has.” He mentions how the supplements penetrate the cellular level.

“Those are just some of the things I wanted to share with you,” he said before he jumps up to show me another product. “This is big! This is my own private label: Super Tonic. It is an old, ancient remedy for inflammation, fever, flu, and colds. It also goes down to the cellular level.

The store has a machine that makes 11 types of alkaline water. “It’s been used in Japan for about 45 years,” said Poole.

Poole started Natural Foods + Juice Caboose in Dayton in June 1995. He opened the Kettering store more recently in December 2018. The Water Store & Energy Clinic will be located next to the Dayton store and will be opened (hopefully) within the next two to three months.

Before I could ask him my first question, Mr. Poole wanted to show me pictures. “This is The Water Store,” he said. He told me about the filtration system, reverse osmosis, and alkaline water. I have been curious about alkaline water since a college classmate did a project on it. She and her family swore by it. “Customers will bring their containers, get them cleaned, and fill up” with more water Poole said. He also mentioned his energy clinic, where patrons will be able to get vitamin injections.

What steps did you take to ensure you could have a viable and sustainable business in Northwest Dayton?

I did research before I started. I am sort of a research junkie. Before you open a business, you [must] research the demographics. I researched and put together a proposal three years before that. I studied what another health food store was doing. We were doing market research. We were looking at the trends that were happening back then. I also had to determine the popularity of the business.

What business information or resources were available to you when you opened your business?

Every industry has its own literature, brochures, etc. Vitamin Retailer Magazine was one of them; industry catalogues, etc.

What kind of marketing and/or advertising did you do for your business?

We mailed flyers by direct mail, we advertised on the radio, in the newspaper, and on tv. We used “old school” marketing when opening the Kettering store but found it less effective than before. We are [now] in the digital age.

Poole works with a marketing company now that uses social media and designs online campaigns, content for promotions, events, and launches. “That’s the biggest difference today [is social media],” he said.

Has the pandemic impacted your business either negatively or positively since last March?

The Kettering store was really effected because I was new [to the area]. I was planning to open in June but due to things beyond my control, the opening was delayed until December, which was not ideal considering we are a health food store and juice bar. I had to get the doors opened and after the first year, Covid-19 hit, and it really affected this location. The Dayton store was a little bit different because I had 24 years [at the time] of building clientele, building a base, educating that base and the community about the importance of health. There is a segment of the millennials who are very conscious and aware, and seeking good health,” he said. “My radio program is very effective at reaching people.”

To be fair, good health-seekers exist in every generation, because not all is not lost or gained on the perceived state of one generation or another.

Does either store or The Water Store have any upcoming events?

We are giving away an Austin Air Filter (valued at $715) at both [the Dayton and Kettering] stores. It is amazing and reduces chemical toxins in the air. The company has been around more than 15 years. [This machine] filters airborne viruses as small as one micron in size. We are also a distributor of the Austin Air Filter. I highly recommend that everyone [invest] in an Austin Air Filter Filtration System, especially people living in an older home, where mold might be present.

Besides passion, what would you tell a perspective business owner that they need to start and maintain a business?

Research. Research the industry that you want to go into. Know and understand the business you want to go into. And location, location, location. Make sure you have an accounting firm or someone who can help you put your numbers together. You will need a breakdown of your marketing, advertising, and promotions. As yourself what vehicles you will use in your advertising and marketing? Old school marketing/advertising is still kind of prevalent, but the importance of using social media cannot be overstated. Mr. Poole told me to put three, no five stars next to social media. Staffing is also very, very important. Having a well-educated staff is imperative.

Did anyone mentor you in business?

Not directly, but I grew up in a community where I saw other people, like Mr. Lorenzo Harris Sr. (Rens Market), State Representative, CJ McLin, and others. There were Black entrepreneurs and doctors, Black construction companies, and they motivated me. I had access to them. I used my resources.

Poole talked about mentoring others and that mentoring is part of his legacy. I get calls every now and then asking, Hey, would you mentor me? That happened about two weeks ago.

Plan and pivot, as necessary.

“My dad worked 32 years in a foundry; he could barely read or write,” said Poole. “My mother did day-work. I was an athlete,” and with a scholarship to run track at the University of Wisconsin, Poole said, “That was my way out. I won the mile and half-mile, setting records in both.”

After he graduated from college, Poole taught fifth grade in Jefferson Township (the district he graduated from). He “went back and got a master’s degree from The University of Cincinnati in Educational Administration as well as a specialist degree and was an assistant principal too,” he said. “At one time, I wanted to be a superintendent and my mentor [at the time] told me I was talented, and I loved kids, then politics got involved and the district got rid of him. I was so discouraged after that happened, I left the educational system.

It took him three years of research after that to get the necessary experience and the money to open Spunky’s on Germantown Pike in 1980. A club he still appreciates, that drew patrons from Chicago, Detroit, and Columbus. “I put together my proposal to open up Spunky’s” and for nearly 15 years he hosted the night life and raised funds for causes impacting the Black community directly.

He started Natural Foods + Juice Caboose because of familial and personal diagnoses that pushed him to find alternatives to chemo and radiation. Mr. Poole is living proof that we should take care of the one and only body we have. It will cost us and our families more if we do not take care of ourselves, because health is wealth.

Catch up with Mr. Poole on Tuesdays at 9-10 AM for Health is Wealth on WDAO Radio 1210 AM or 102.3 FM, or you can call (937) 457-1210 with questions and comments.

If you see Mr. Poole in either store, be sure to say hello, then thank him for working so hard to get us to our best selves (or keep us there), mind, body, and spirit.

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