"You are what you eat – I don’t know who said it, but I will say it again,” laughs Gavin Mah, CEO of Finlandia Pharmacy and Natural Health Centre.
Mah is referring to the much-anticipated news that Vancouver’s iconic natural health centre is indeed opening a Finlandia-branded food services component in the near future.
Finlandia was founded in 1974 by pharmacist Harlan Lahti, whose values and high standards appear across the brand, from the retail store to the health team, with excellent customer service before all else.
Bridging the world of western and alternative medicine, Finlandia offers the gold standard of professional consultations concerning supplements and herbal medicine, plus has a full-service medical/ compounding pharmacy that’s been in place for decades. To round out the entire Finlandia-branded experience, a new wellness clinic is planned to open in 2023.
“We had our 48th anniversary recently, and to celebrate we partnered up with local farms and gave away organic cucumbers and garlic, saying it was a taste of something to come,” said Mah when we asked about what those food services meant for our community. “We are in the process of building a Finlandia kitchen, have created a logo with Harlan’s face, are testing recipes, finding chefs, and working with BC and Alberta farmers.”
In this next phase of Finlandia’s growth, the company chooses to incorporate food, because they believe “the foundation of health starts with food,” says Mah. “It is really a lifestyle shift. Even though we sell supplements, herbs, pharmaceuticals, and homeopathic medicines – most people would not need as much of that if they ate right and had an active lifestyle; even just walking.”
That means that very soon, a visit to Finlandia can include counter service with grab-and-go hot and cold meals, a space to buy fresh produce, and an outside eating area with tables.
“We want to take our holistic approach to an all-inclusive level,” says Mah. “We already make supplements, and now we can make food products starting with our farms. We have a distribution outlet, our own retail space and online pharmacy, so now we will be totally vertically integrated – from dirt to the end consumer.”
In addition to that, further expansion is in the works. Finlandia’s loyal customers already shop there for professional information and products, “but must go elsewhere if they want to visit a clinic,” says Mah.
With the new plan of adding actual private wellness clinic rooms to the existing retail space, “Finlandia practitioners can offer a full diagnosis, not just while they are talking in the store aisle. This way we can build each individual a program that we know will work, with testing equipment, and treatment options like acupuncture and massage therapy, plus herbalists, ND’s, and even MD’s – all under one roof.”
Since an essential aspect of optimal health is knowing when it is safe to mix western medicine with a holistic or naturopathic approach, this new clinic will allow the entire Finlandia team access to each other to ensure their advice regarding treatment will be safe and effective for their patients.
Factoring in all modalities is crucial so there are no unsafe interactions, and for the client/patient having one team of experts overseeing their health plan, and at one location, paves the way for their wellness with ease.
For nearly 50 years, Finlandia has understood the key to optimal health and shared that wisdom with us in a variety of offerings. With the new additions of a culinary component and a wellness clinic, they continue to grow and check the boxes we’ve come to expect from this trusted brand.