museums&MORE Summer 2016
Living Well at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital By Zeke Jennings

LiveWell Shoppe a draw all by itself

Upon entering Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, visitors tend to forget they’ve just walked into a medical facility, and that’s by design. The main corridor is called Main Street and is flush with tables, chairs, benches and awnings extending from brick walls.

Despite its location in suburban Detroit, Main Street at Henry Ford West Bloomfield is modeled after a quaint northern Michigan town, such as Petoskey or Charlevoix, giving visitors the calm feeling of shopping while on vacation. The anchor of Main Street is the LiveWell Shoppe, a 4,500-square-foot gift store that offers everything from clothing to all-natural foods.

The product selection at The LiveWell Shoppe is more like a department store or specialty boutique than a typical hospital gift store,” said Marilyn Arace, who has been the store’s buyer since he hospital opened seven years ago. “We have garden décor, kitchen gadgets, jewelry and Michigan products — including (Michigan State University and the University of Michigan). We have some items, like our baby briefcase — for important documents — that we can’t keep in stock. They fly out the door!”

MM: Because the store is located within a hospital, many visitors may have a lot of anxious hours on their hands. Does knowing that play a role in what products you stock and how you train your staff to interact?

MA: We stock many items that we know patients need during their stay. The staff really gets to know a lot of them and their families, and hope we give them some comfort while they are here.

MM: Do you get much feedback from guests on the design and architecture?

MA: Every day, someone comments about the hospital’s look and how it doesn’t feel like a hospital. Patients come back because of the relaxing atmosphere and they shop. We have a lot of people who visit Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital daily who have no medical reason to be here. They come not only to shop, but to have lunch in Henry’s Café, to get a massage in Vita, the wellness center, and we have regular groups of bridge and Mah Jong players. And the hospital has received many awards for its architecture and other features.

MM: Where do you typically look for new products?

MA: Vendors and reps bring us new products to consider, and we also get customer requests.

MM: What sort of food and snacks does the store offer?

MA: The Live Well Shoppe offers grab-and-go items such as hummus, sandwiches, cheese, frozen organic foods, milk, healthier chips, gluten-free snacks and chocolates.

MM: What is your display philosophy?

MA: Our staff with merchandising background changes the displays at least once a month and with the seasons, making them pleasing to the eye.

MM: Do proceeds from sales fund anything in particular for the hospital?

MA: We don’t fund anything particular at this time, but we do support a lot of charities in the community with gift baskets.

  • What: The LiveWell Shoppe at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. (The West Bloomfield location is one of six Henry Ford Health System hospitals in metropolitan Detroit.)
  • Where: 6777 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield Township, Michigan
  • Store size and staff: 4,500 square feet with two full-time, two part-time and four contingent employees, as well as one volunteer
  • Best-sellers: Baby products and apparel are the top categories among the store’s 10,000 SKUs
  • Online:
  • Photo Gallery

Natural medicine

“Food is our medicine” is a philosophy employed by the staff Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, and that’s evident in the fact the facility has a 1,500-square-foot organic greenhouse on site.

The produce grown in the greenhouse, which was completed in 2012, helps feed the patients at the 300-bed facility, which not only promotes healthy eating, it also reduces hospital costs. In addition, the produce helps stock the eatery Henry’s Café, as well as Henry’s Market, a weekly seasonal farmer’s-like market that’s part of the hospital’s overall retail operation.

“Henry’s Market on Main was born of a commitment to making local, healthy, affordable food accessible to our patients and the old wisdom that food can be our best medicine,” said Resident Farmer Trevor Johnson. “All the produce is from Michigan farms. We also offer flowers, honey, baked goods and other products, such as pesto made from the basil I grow in our hydroponic, organic greenhouse.”

The organic greenhouse produces an estimated 1,000 pounds of produce per year. The greenhouse was designed by Howard Resh, Ph.D., a hydroponic researcher, author and practitioner. Fred Petitt, Ph.D., who is the director of Agriculture & Water Sciences for Walk Disney Parks & Resorts, served as a consultant.

Zeke Jennings

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