Joe McKee’s first career required a lot of regional travel — and a lot of time in his car.
It was less-than-ideal for the longtime athlete. McKee was a champion wrestler in high school who also competed on scholarship in college and he currently is an avid cyclist. It was part of the job, though, and McKee found other ways to keep wellness front and center in his life while on the road: mainly, books on tape about the topic.
You see, the passion that McKee has for improving health and wellness has been a lifelong journey. So, when he financially found himself and his family able to make that passion his profession, he did just that.
“I got to a point where I said ‘now I can really do my passion’ — and I decided I would open a health foods store,” McKee said.
Enter Healthy Habits.
McKee’s first Healthy Habits store, located at 362 3rd St. NW in Winter Haven, was opened in July of 2007. Since then, he has opened a location in Lakeland, in 2011, and most recently a second location in the Winter Haven area, this one in the southwest part of town at 509 Cypress Gardens Blvd.
“We realized that southwest is more where the town is growing and we wanted to be a little closer (to that growth),” McKee explained.
For McKee, his family and the team at Healthy Habits, the goal was never about large profit margins and scale. Rather, from Day One in 2007, the focus has been on facilitating the customer getting what he or she needs to be well.
“What I think we did differently, right from the beginning, was that our mission was simply to help people with their health,” McKee said. “So, when someone comes in, we don’t go to a product and think in our mind ‘okay, what’s the profit-margin on this item?’ When someone comes in, our sole purpose is to help them achieve good health.”
Based on the growth from one to three locations, as well as a loyal base clientele, that approach has proved fruitful. It is an impressive feat for a locally owned business, especially in an age of rapid growth within online shopping.
“We realize that pretty much anything we have here they can buy on Amazon,” McKee said. “So it’s not really about a product, but about having some pretty good insight about what can be helpful and then passing those ideas along.”
Those insights might be passed along by employees at any of the three Healthy Habits locations, or in a seminar format the locally-owned company tries to host every so often.
An upcoming seminar series focused on prevention will feature events in February with topics such as the science of health and cellular hydration.
“We’re all about education — the latest information in the naturopathic world. ‘What’s going on?’” McKee said. “We try to make sure we’re in a position to give good information and helpful insights to our customers.”
More information about Healthy Habits, its offerings and its upcoming seminar series can be found online, by visiting the store’s website — www.healthyhabitsstores.com — or its Facebook page: facebook.com/healthyhabitsforyou.
For the locally-owned business, the focus will continue to revolve around helping people achieve their health goals, regardless of the profit.
“My intention would be to help you accomplish whatever that goal is you want to accomplish and to pull as little money out of your wallet as possible,” McKee said. “That’s kind of our modus operandi.”