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Healthy Profits

Aging boomers and growing health awareness power a new breed of health-care stores.

You can't buy happiness. But if a new trend in retailing has any merit, perhaps you can buy better health. That is, you and the millions of people nationwide who have health and mobility problems or who care for people who do.

This new breed of store combines the products and services of an old-fashioned medical equipment dealership with merchandising savvy and a level of service that makes Nordstrom look uninterested. The formats range from intimate boutiques to sprawling superstores, but they share a common goal: Changing the way Americans shop for everything from wheelchairs to blood pressure monitors.

"These are not the dingy surgical supply houses most of us think of when we think of medical supplies," says Marie Griffin, editor in chief of Drug Store News. As the population ages, people are going to need more help--recovering from hospital stays, coping with mobility limitations, dealing with chronic illnesses, and living with a panoply of major and minor health problems. Yet most people don't know what kinds of health aids are available to them, let alone where to find them.

Merchandisers who can enlighten consumers as to the possibilities--and ignite their retail impulses in the process--should enjoy a healthy and growing market.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Healthy Profits.

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