Bodybuilding supplements aren’t just for bodybuilders — they’re also designed to help powerlifters and anyone participating in sports, running, biking and swimming along with anyone lifting weights. But where should you be shopping for your bodybuilding supplements?
Generally speaking, as long as you live in a larger town or a city, you’ll have the choice of department stores, drug stores, chain stores and independent bodybuilding supplement stores. In almost every case, your best bet is to patronize your local independent supplier, and here’s why…
1) More Knowledgeable Specialist Staff – In drug stores, department stores and the like, supplements are one small area of their business. As a result, there’s no pressure for their staff to be experts in fitness, exercise or nutrition, and there’s no strong motivation for them to stay up on the latest research. You’ll usually fare better in a supplements chain store, but they have to hire a lot more staff to cover all their stores and like most retail operations it’s hit and miss as to whether you’ll get a dedicated athlete or a general retail employee serving you.
By contrast, usually only someone dedicated to lifting weights, be they a powerlifter, powerbuilder or bodybuilder, will open a bodybuilding supplements store. Often they’ll be a former or current fitness competitor themselves, or just love the sport. And since few employees are needed to run a single retail operation, they can usually staff it with just their friends whom they know are also into fitness. They each may or may not be certified personal trainers or nutrition specialists, but at least they’ll have a fairly well-rounded knowledge of the purposes and uses of each of the supplements plus usually some anecdotal results from their own nutritional regime experiments and those of their friends.
2) They Only Carry The Best Brands — Department stores and drug stores get by selling a range of products and only need a small percentage of their profits to come from their supplements. A chain store can survive off of sales of other stores – if 95% of their corporate stores are showing a profit, they can either close the other 5% or keep them going because the chain is making a net profit overall. But your locally-owned independent store has to make their money from just that one location, making every single customer a more vital piece of their net profit picture. And in the world of retail supplements, that means the products they sell have to WORK – it’s the only way to ensure customer retention. So while the others can afford to offer so-so products, your local store HAS to ensure they sell only first-quality bodybuilding supplements.
3) They Carry A Wider Selection Of Supplements — This one is a no-brainer: compare the size of your local store to the shelf space allotted to supplements in your local drug store or department store. No comparison, right? The popular supplement chain store will often have as big an area, but in most cases they’re only allowed to order the products approved of by head office, which can often lead to bigger stocks of fewer products. Your local independent, however, can stock whatever they like and will usually carry everything they get much demand for, leading to a wider selection both of brands and of the myriad of bodybuilding supplements on the market today. As an example, they won’t just offer whey protein but also whey protein isolate, casein protein, vegan proteins, etc. Or check out how many different pre-workout supplements they offer compared to your local department or drug store.
4) You’re Helping To Support Your Local Economy — This is true no matter what you purchase, so it’s not just limited to bodybuilding supplements – when you shop with local independent retailers the profits stay in your community. In this age of global corporations and free trade, every little bit helps when you choose to support your local businesses.
Bonus Tip For Competitive Athletes — If you hope to rise to the top of your sport over time, you already know the value of sponsorship. I can come in the form of free or discounted products, apparel, even cash to help defray the costs of traveling to competitions, etc. Getting sponsors isn’t easy, but at least when you’ve built a relationship with a local supplements store you have a better chance of getting help than you would when competing with athletes nationally or world-wide for those few spots. True, the level of sponsorship may be lower due to the economies of scale, but we all have to start somewhere, right? Try asking your local department store or retail store about how many athletes they sponsor, and ask your local supplements chain store how many athletes they sponsor in YOUR community – it won’t take long for you to see your best opportunities will come from your local independent bodybuilding supplements store!