Health Hut, Toronto
If you’ve ever visited the charming town of Port Carling in Muskoka, Ontario, you may have accidentally stumbled upon Tara Miller’s experiment – an old 100 square foot converted ice cream but nestled on her family’s gas station property. It’s a bustling spot during the summer months, with no other gas station for miles -so it struck Toro thot setting up shop here could be on interesting way to gauge on oppetite for natural health products in the area.
“The Hut was me testing the waters of what I can curate and put together to create a warm, cozy, inclusive environment that you could go to even if you weren’t in to natural stuff.”
“I had just finished school as a holittrionist, and I wanted to be up in Muskoka, I used to ;spend all my summers there. So I thought what can I do that incorporates some of my education educatiortand spend my time in Muskoka. My parents own that gas station, so I asked my mom if I could have the but and see what happens. “
Tara admits the name is quite literal, not imagining that this seemingly innocent experiment would eventually lead to her opening up a flagship store in Toronto’s Little Italy in the summer of 2017. The space is, by all accounts, an extension of the original Hut – more space, warm wood materials, but with equal attention paid to the products she displays. It is a refreshing approach to the status quo of health stores, which tend to be stuffy and overwhelming.
“I wanted to curate a space that was welcoming, inclusive, you didn’t need to feel like you were super granola to go and shop.”
Health Hut feels very much like Tara describes. Despite being a nutritionist, she reiterates that if you’re looking for the latest detox trend you won’t find it here. “None of this store is about eliminating, as much as it is about adding, and doing things to make you feel good.”
The added space has given Tara the ability to host classes and sessions in the evenings, extending a welcomed invitation to the community. “It’s a great way to meet people who are local”, she says, adding that there is a particular appetite in Toronto for these types of things. It’s at this moment when a UPS courier appears to pick up a Giftagram package. As Arthur (Tara’s one year old pup) greets him at the door, we discuss her recent partnership with Giftagram and the notion of gifting in general. Tara adds she loves the concept of Giftagram as it addresses a common theme for a lot of people – time.
“I am a terrible gifter, I hate to admit that. I may have an idea but it comes last minute so I don’t always execute, so it’s not that the thought isn’t there- I just don’t take the time.”
“I doubt I’d grow in Toronto, but I’d like to target more rural Ontario communities where the desire is there but they might not have the option for it.”
Asked about her future plans, Tara seems content with the status quo, realizing that expanding has to make sense. She will return to run the original Health Hut in Muskoka on the May 24 weekend, admitting that spending time up north is a passion she won’t let go of. As far as growing the business, her focus is routed in the inception of Health Hut in the first place, introducing products to people in areas who may not have access to it.
“My mom puts together a book of every text that we send her with a photo. So if I am like “the dog just did something so cute” She put that into a year of all those photos. It is usually a significant photo, because you are excited to send it to someone. So she made us a book, for my brother, my husband and I. I thought that was really nice, that was thoughtful.”