Summer Auerbach with her father, Rob Auerbach | Courtesy of Rainbow Blossom
Summer Auerbach with her father, Rob Auerbach | Courtesy of Rainbow Blossom

Success is nothing new for Summer Auerbach, now owner of her family’s health food chain Rainbow Blossom, a Louisville staple since 1977. She is a prominent business owner and is dedicated to many causes — including a member of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) — and on Wednesday, Auerbach received national attention in a New York Times article on second-generation health food store owners.

Auerbach was one of three examples detailed in the piece, titled “Health Food Retailers Make Way for the Next Generation.” The article examines the evolution of the natural products and food industry, where many stores sprang up nationwide in the ’70s and ’80s by activists and health food pioneers, and now those owners are passing their businesses on to their children.

The article reports there are an estimated 5,000 independent health food stores in the country, and many of the owners “are now reaching retirement age and face a decision on whether to close, sell out to strangers, or turn the business over to their children, who were reared on carrot juice, almond butter sandwiches and a shared desire to carry on the mission.”

There are five Rainbow Blossom locations in Louisville.
There are five Rainbow Blossom locations in Louisville.

Auerbach’s story mirrors the trend, and the piece mentions how she took over Rainbow Blossom, which her parents opened in 1977, in 2004 when her father was diagnosed with cancer.

Auerbach tells Insider she was recommended for the piece by one of the other owners profiled, Emily Kanter, who runs Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, Mass. She had met Kanter at a Natural Products Expo a few years back and the two became industry friends because they had a lot in common, having inherited their businesses from their parents.

“It’s been really nice to get to know other people who are in similar roles,” she tells Insider. “The funny thing is, I’m pushing 11 years in my role, and there are so many more second-gen retailers than there were 10 years ago.”

Both Auerbach and Kanter are members of the Next Generation Leadership Committee for the Natural Products Association. The group tackles policy and advocacy issues that affect the health food industry, “like protecting dietary supplements and labeling genetically modified foods,” Auerbach explains.

She feels honored to have been featured in the article and hopes it connects other second-generation owners in the business.

“It is very exciting to be featured in The New York Times,” she says. “All of the feedback has been really positive.”

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."