Healthy Living Market & Cafe, which has two stores in Vermont and one in New York, takes pride in its in-store experience, built on warm, inviting stores; an elevated cafe; and exceptional hospitality. “It’s something that we’ve worked really hard on,” says Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, who owns Healthy Living Market with his sibling Nina.

And amid COVID, the specialty grocer has found ways to continue to deliver on that incomparable service. Among those was the transformation of its salad and hot bars into an assemble-to-order model—a change Healthy Living Market plans to keep for the long term.

“It’s a much more hospitable program,” Nina says. “It's much more in line with other trends that you're seeing in the fast-casual market.”

Another way was through a simple sign, “Enter With Joy,” that was installed by founder Katy Lesser and mother to Nina and Eli. It’s a reminder that “there are still things to be happy about in this world,” Nina says.  

“We did this whole conversation around smile with your eyes, show us your joy,” she continued. “And we really started to boost up our staff as these heroes … serving this community in this amazing way. And it brought back the vibe that Healthy Living is famous for."