By Jim Newell
Age may be just a number, but in business that longevity is also measure of success and sustainability.
Lucky’s Natural Foods celebrated 45 years of business in downtown Lake Orion with a ribbon cutting and open house in October.
Kim Urbanowski, executive director of the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce and Molly LaLone, executive director of the Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority, attended, as did several local officials, business owners and community members, to congratulate Lucky’s owner Tanya Luchkovitz on the store’s longevity.
Luchkovitz’s parents, John and Judy Luchkovitz, originally opened the business as Lucky’s Produce, Plants and Flowers. John and Judy are from Michigan but moved the family to California for a while.
“My parents started it in November 1974,” said Tanya. “When we moved back to Michigan, they started selling produce at stands in Lake Orion at street corners, mostly Clarkston and Lapeer. Then they bought the store.”
Tanya has owned Lucky’s since 1993. Prior to that, she was the manager.
“The first summer we were here we just sold produce (from) roadside stands,” Tanya said. “Over the years we added health foods and natural foods…different things that people were asking for in the community. From there, we just listened to what our customers wanted and we became Lucky’s Natural Foods.”
“We’ve come down here and you’ve given us a lot of really good advice and a lot of people really trust what you guys do…45 years, you must be doing something right,” said Urbanowski during the celebration. “Thank you for being part of our chamber family and we hope that you have another 45 years, and more.”
“They genuinely care about enriching the lives of others and helping people be the healthiest they can be,” said LaLone. “We’re so fortunate that they’re here in downtown Lake Orion.”
The wants of their customers and Lucky’s ability to adapt to the changing times and market grew into Lucky’s inventory today.
Lucky’s is the oldest health food store in northern Oakland County, offering supplements, vitamins, minerals, homeopathic remedies, natural foods, cruelty-free body care products, health and vegetarian foods and household and pet supplies.
The store sells Amish poultry, meat and eggs and antibiotic-free turkeys, with demand increasing as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach.
“We have quite a big business with the Turkeys,” Tanya said. “We also have the largest of CBD selection in the area.
“I’ve seen more of an interest in natural foods and supplements. It’s gained in popularity over the years,” Tanya said. “We have people who come from all over: Detroit, Lapeer, the thumb-area. I think that what makes us stand out is that we care about people. We develop relationships with our customers,” she said.
What makes Lucky’s unique, different from other grocery stores and the grocery chains?
“I think the biggest thing would be our customer service. We really make it a point to greet people by name and help them with their issues. And if we don’t know the answers, we will seek out the answers for them,” Tanya said. “I think that we’re unique because of the way we are. It’s hard to find stores that are like us.”
That, and it’s a true family business.
“Growing up, my sister, my brother (and I), we were always in the store. We wanted to work; we were crazy, but it was fun,” Tanya said.
Tanya’s children all worked at the store at one time or another and her daughter, Andrea, was a manager at the store.
“It’s my life, and it’s an emotional thing because it is my life. My kids were raised in the store. We had playpens behind the counter and cribs in the office and a play area in the back room for them,” Tanya said. “My granddaughter comes in here and she acts like the Wal-Mart greeter with customers and tries to help them. It’s meant a lot to my family; it’s been a true foundation. It is a true family store.
“Mostly, I want to thank my customers, because without my customers we wouldn’t be here. We have some great customers,” Tanya said.
Joe Frost from Oakland County Main Street praised Lucky’s for its longevity, adapting to its customers’ needs over the years and continuing the family tradition while providing a “sense of place and historic preservation.”
Frost presented Luchkovitz with a special proclamation from Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter honoring Lucky’s Natural Foods.
Lucky’s Natural Foods is at 101 S. Broadway St.
“I’m a local girl. I went to Lake Orion High School, and I love this community. We’re very happy here. It’s been a very unique journey and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Tanya said.