Promoter-in-chief of nutritional supplements and vitamins having the ‘Tyme’ of her life
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Operating Natur-Tyme has brought Wendy Meyerson full circle. Meyerson grew up in Syracuse in the shadow of her father, Stan Meyerson, a pharmacist who later founded Natur-Tyme.
Meyerson always felt drawn to work in the retail industry. A confessed “clothes horse,” Meyerson thought it would be retail clothing. In fact, her first job as a 16-year-old was in retail clothing at ShoppingTown Mall in Dewitt. She recalled a manager mentored her on customer service.
“Paired with my experience with my father, that was a good foundation,” Meyerson said.
She later studied marketing and advertising at Cazenovia College before moving to Houston, where she worked in management in retail clothing for 20 years.
Anytime she mentioned a health issue to her father, a package containing a supplement would soon arrive on her doorstep, along with her father’s directions as to its use.
She came back to the health field when she moved back to the area in 1998 and started working with her father’s businesses. By then, Stan had begun a mail order catalog business, NEEDS, as well as Natur-Tyme.
“I did not know about natural health at that time, but I had retail in my blood,” Meyerson said. “I thought I’d be involved in clothing, not natural foods, but I immersed myself.”
Per Stan’s encouragement, she studied Earl Mindell’s “Vitamin Bible.”
“He said to learn one thing about each item in it,” Meyerson said. “That started my journey.”
The more Meyerson learned, the more she realized that for both her success as a retailer and to improve her health and that of her two sons, she needed to incorporate nutritional supplements, healthful foods and natural products into her life.
At first, she didn’t use any products from Natur-Tyme. But now, “I’m 98 percent there,” Meyerson said. “I do attribute my customers to helping me take that journey by spending time with them and hearing their stories of success in making lifestyle changes. It got me saying, ‘There has to be something there.’”
She believes that she has experienced resolution of health issues she experienced prior to embarking on her newfound healthful life. She likes an integrative approach that’s balanced.
“There’s so much technology and advancement in medicine that’s wonderful,” Meyerson said, “but it’s about balance.”
She has relied heavily upon her employees’ knowledge, and feels blessed to have workers such as Karen Fisk, who worked with her father and is still with Natur-Tyme 35 years later as a wellness educator. She has known Meyerson for 19 years.
“She’s a visionary, which sounds trite, I know, but her father never saw this coming, with the cafe, salon, and other additions to the store,” Fisk said. “She’s always looking to see what the community requires, does right by her employees and entertains new science.
“Her father was ahead of his time and always kept his eye on science and traditional medicine. She learned from him.”
Fisk said Meyerson “is fun and funny and a little outrageous, which we like.”
Her bubbly personality helped her earn a spot hosting “Nutritional Insights” live on WSYR radio for 12 years, interviewing nutritional experts. The experience helped her learn a lot about health.
“I wouldn’t put myself on the expert level, but I can find someone who is,” Meyerson said.
In 2001, Meyerson purchased the business and has continued prioritizing her household’s health by transitioning to more natural foods and home, health and beauty items.
“I feel that I have created a much healthier environment for myself and my family and have learned a tremendous amount about it,” Meyerson said. “I’m certainly still connected to allopathic medicine and all it has to offer. I like to use an integrative approach. There’s a balance.”
A self-named “department store girl” regarding cosmetics, Meyerson never thought she would find things at a health foods store that would meet and even exceed her standards for product performance. She has been amazed at the effectiveness of the products at Natur-Tyme.
Process of reevaluation
She maintains an extensive supplement regimen, and, as she advises her clients, re-evaluates her supplements to make sure they’re still working for her.
“Talk with someone who can help you assess what you’re doing,” Meyerson said.
Meyerson enjoys working at the business with her husband, Andy Fox. But it’s hard at times to leave work at the office.
“When you’re a small business owner, it’s round-the-clock, emotionally, physically and intellectually,” she said. “It doesn’t stop.”
While being passionate about health helps Meyerson succeed at Natur-Tyme, it’s been hard to achieve a work-life balance. She watched her father work 18-hour days to build the businesses.
“To be ahead, exciting and creative and keep the attention of the public takes a lot of time,” Meyerson said. “Their attention is being grabbed in so many directions as to where they buy, where they get information, and who they interact with. It gets harder and harder.”
In addition to Natur-Tyme, Meyerson runs NEEDS (www.needs.com) from the same building. NEEDS is an internet mail order business her father started almost 30 years ago. NEEDS focuses on chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue issues.
She and her husband also operate Natural Dispensary (www.naturaldispensary.com), a patient fulfillment program for doctors who want their patients to take supplements.
Hundreds of physicians across the country can use the password-protected website. Though Meyerson’s father didn’t start Natural Dispensary, “he was way ahead of his time and he trademarked the name,” she said.
When husband came into the business after Meyerson’s father died, he developed this division of the business and used the name his late father-in-law had trademarked.
Meyerson and Natur-Tyme have weathered a few unwanted changes in the retail world, such as the rise of big box stores and the faltering of many small, independent shops. She believes that staying relevant to her loyal customers has helped Natur-Tyme thrive, such as using social media and special events to stay connected.
She has learned over the years that she can only control what she does in her business, not what competitors do.
Meyerson especially loves the marketing and promotion aspects of the business. She plans to host Natur-Tyme’s 18th annual health fair April 8 at the Horticulture building at the New York State Fairgrounds. The event will feature Daphne Oz and numerous other well-known speakers.
“That’s the fun part of the job — to help educate Central New York with new, creative ideas and products,” Meyerson said. “This industry is now mainstream. It’s not on the peripheral anymore.”
She has enjoyed watching complementary medicine grow, mostly through consumer demand.
“Hopefully, we have contributed in a small way here at Natur-Tyme,” Meyerson said. “My father has had that vision early on. I hope his legacy has continued on.
“In the old days, you went in and your doctor told you what to do. But doctors need conversations and dialogue with patients and patients need acceptance to think outside the box. We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go.”
She hopes current generation of doctors obtains more exposure to this in medical school to have a more open mind. “I understand they want a science-based approach and hopefully we’re getting there,” she said.
Public trust in supplements has wavered in light of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s crackdown on supplement manufacturers in 2015, which revealed that many supplements from among four store brands found at GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart lacked the herbs on their labels and often contained fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and wild radish.
“As in any industry, there’s good plumbers and good contractors and not so good,” Meyerson said. “We certainly have to do due diligence the same as when we shop for a car or whatever we do.”
She encourages people to work with a trusted practitioner or health foods store and to ask questions.
“Don’t assume because someone says something it’s so,” she said. “I applaud everyone who is looking to take care of themselves or feel they have a deficit in some area they want to support. That’s positive. But you have to still do your homework and ask questions and educate yourself and work with your practitioner to make sure your pharmaceuticals are good companions to the supplements you’re taking. You have to be smart.”
She wants customers at Natur-Tyme to feel visually stimulated by the store, and to take home some new knowledge so they can take further steps in accomplishing their wellness goals.
Wendy Meyerson at a Glance
Husband: Andy Fox
Children: Two sons
Exercise: Daily elliptical training. “It’s easy on my body. I work with a physical therapist so I can get stronger. They’re extremely knowledgeable; I’m very fortunate.”
Favorite hobby: Travel, including the Baltic nations, Europe and a trip with the grandchildren to Disney World. Meyerson keeps hundreds of Mickey Mouse-themed items in her office. She and her husband like to travel to Texas to visit her grandson, 5, and granddaughter, 2.
Bucket list: They hope to visit Australia someday, and visit more of Europe.
Life philosophy: “My husband lives with a chronic condition, so it puts life in perspective. We try to live life to the fullest within those parameters, never knowing what life will bring.”
Sense of style: “I never dress down. I try to leave the house put together and looking my best. I’m age-appropriate, but keep on trendS. I have my basics, and like to have some color and fun added to an outfit.”
Favorite treat: “My weekly massage helps me let it go and work through the kinks and stresses and get ready to face the next week.”
Best girls’ night out: Shopping for clothing. “That’s my release. I try to support the small, local retailers when I can.”
Favorite foods: “I’m a fruit and vegetable kind of gal. I am trying to learn to cook a little bit more. That’s new for me, as I have been intimidated by it. I’m not fancy. I am learning to use some spices and trying to expand my horizons a little. I’ll never be a gourmet chef. I’ll put it that way.”
What she is reading: “I’m staying very up-to-date with current events. I’m trying to get a balanced view of everything. I don’t know if it’s possible.”
How she gives back: “In 2016, The Wise Business Center asked me to be on the advisory board. At first, I was intimidated by it. I said that at this time in my life, it’s time to start thinking about what I have to contribute, so I jumped in. It’s been a learning experience. I’m still serving on the board as they just asked me to extend my time. I’m trying to teach myself to find ways that I can contribute to the business world. It’s hard to recognize other areas to contribute to the community. It’s not easy. It’s something that requires preparation.
“I have to keep questioning myself and validating myself. It’s a new phase and direction. It comes naturally to some people who have been leaders all their life. I’ve met dynamic women and their mission is incredible. The mission of The Wise Business Center is incredible, too, helping women make their vision reality with support and knowledge. For someone who’s been in business and has done things every day that are comfortable, it was time to step outside myself.”