Who >> Ralph Johnson
Job >> Owner
Store >> Foodworks
Where >> New England
(Old Saybrook and Guilford, Connecticut; and Smithfield, Rhode Island)

Q. What is the most common question you get from shoppers?

A. How does this taste? That’s the first question. Whether it’s tofu or tempeh or soy cheese or wheat-free crackers or spelt bread, it’s always the same question. They want to know if it tastes different from what they’re used to. I always tell them that it tastes a little different, but a lot of stuff is really close to it. I tell them that tofu doesn’t taste like cheese—I don’t care what you do to it.

Q. What’s the store’s best-selling item and why?

A. Silk soy milk and organic milk. We go through a lot of milk. I think people are really concerned about the bovine hormone, and because many people have kids, their families drink a lot of milk. People want a milk substitute, and now that soy milk has become more palatable, people are willing to drink more of it.

Q. What is your favorite natural product?

A. Green and Black’s chocolate. They make this dark chocolate that’s absolutely amazing. It’s organic chocolate and it’s Fair Trade—it’s just a really good product.

Q. To what do you attribute the success of your stores?

A. Customer service, selection of products, and a willingness to take back stuff if people don’t like it.

Q. What’s your best shopping tip?

A. Ask all the questions you want; don’t be afraid to ask questions.