Every month we’ll be spotlighting a different Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and learn more about what they do day in and day out to keep their departments running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!

A long-time manager at our Kentfield store, Betsy Hershfeld-Cohen can be found in the aisles providing customers with health and beauty tips for every situation. If you don’t know what you need or don’t see what you’re looking for, ask Betsy and she’ll point you in the right direction!

How long have you been employed here?

I’ve been working at Woodlands Market in Kentfield for 15 years, and have been managing departments like this since 1989, selling and recommending nutritional items to our customers.

I’m responsible for choosing what we carry. I handle all the ordering and stocking, but mostly I’m out in the aisles answering customers’ questions. I’m not a pharmacist and don’t pretend to be one, but I often am able to help people find over-the-counter health options.

Can you describe your job for us?

I’m proud that Woodlands is able to tailor our items to the community. I’m able to talk to customers almost 40 hours a week, and as a result I base my ordering and stocking recommendations on an abundance of customer feedback that I’ve gotten over the years. I also try the products myself and do my research, but the majority of my recommendations are based on customer feedback. I can also special order many items for people as needed.

One thing I love about working for an independent market like Woodlands is that we get to truly be a community-focused market and carry whatever the community wants. I worked in natural food stores for 15 years before this job, but Woodlands is able to carry both over-the-counter medicines such as Advil as well as herbal medicine and homeopathic remedies. We have a really nice range that covers the entire spectrum of what people want. As a result, we rarely have to say to a customer, “Sorry, we don’t carry that.”

The same thing applies to our Beauty products—there’s a nice mix of both conventional soaps and lotions as well as other organic and natural products. We’ve got all the products you can buy in a normal pharmacy, combined with things you can buy at health food stores—we can give people whatever they want and are comfortable with. I love this cross-over element that Woodlands offers.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Woodlands?

Working in customer service is definitely my favorite part of the job—I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my work. A department like mine is very information-intensive, and it’s extremely rewarding for me to take a few minutes to stop, listen, and talk to a customer and help them figure out exactly what’s right for them.

I like to ask a few questions and see if I can help people find the right thing on the first try. It would take less effort for me to just point when a customer asks me where an item is, but it’s a lot more rewarding to engage them. Sometimes I’ll tell people that fresh fruits and vegetables are a better choice for them to get the nutrition they need.

One of the few absolute truths I’ve uncovered in my many years of doing this work is that we are all a little bit different, both emotionally and biochemically. Medicine isn’t one-size-fits-all. An example of this is the aromatherapeutic use of lavender oil. Lavender is by far the most popular scent we sell. It is generally considered to be calming and soothing, but obviously if you have a negative association with it (if it’s a smell that was around a lot during a particularly traumatic time in your life and now it reminds you of that), it won’t work for you to try to use it to feel calm and happy.

A lot of the time people say to me, “That thing you recommended cured me,” but all I really do most of the time is offer a supportive and empathetic ear.