Farewell to Wild OatsApr 05, 2011 01:20AM ● By Diane Carr
This area offers an abundance of health food stores. Unfortunately, there will be one less choice as Wild Oats–Whole Foods Market will be closing their doors June 2nd. Wild Oats has been the largest natural and organic marketplace in Melbourne since 1999, offering produce, groceries, prepared meals, vitamins, body-care products as well as a juice and food bar. Their philosophy to "strive to be a proactive member of its community" emphasized their vision reached beyond just being a food retailer. The Melbourne store quickly became popular and customers traveled from all over to partake of the supermarket-sized store, diverse inventory, and community gathering spot.
When one door closes, another door opens, or in this case other doors are already open. Many equally diverse health food stores stand waiting to fill the void. Some offer more than one would expect. As the general population becomes more health conscious, it is refreshing to know there are many well established businesses within a short driving distance. You’ll find the usual products at most stores, but a quick search around Brevard and Indian River Counties produces so much more than the usual fare. Here are businesses from north to south offering unique qualities, products, and services:
Sunshine Health Foods has served Titusville for 21 years specializing in wheat and gluten free items plus products for people with celiac disease. Owner, Linda Garrison is a Licensed Nutritionist and believes in educating her customers through monthly seminars both in store and off premises. Manager Clint Hajek shares their goal, "To keep as many people as healthy as possible so they live to their full schedule whether it’s climbing Mount Everest or making it around the track."
Winning the award for longevity, Sunseed Food Co-op has been in Cape Canaveral for 34 years. They offer a full grocery line plus bulk goods, grains, granolas, pastas, bulk herbs and spices, health, and beauty products. What sets Sunseed apart is their membership which gives customers discounts on many products. Assistant Manager Matthew Backus hopes to see steady growth with more people eating healthier foods. He is optimistic about the future and believes people are much more concerned about the environment and where their food comes from.
Merritt Island’s A-Live and Healthy opened in January and sees many return customers at this organic living food restaurant and produce market. The menu lists a variety of raw and cooked foods including smoothies, juices, salads, and wraps. True to its name, A-Live and Healthy specializes in all organic, gluten, wheat, yeast, and sugar free foods. Homemade breads created with dehydrated fruits, nuts, and vegetables are sweetened with date or agave nectar. Owner Kim Smith believes we are coming into an age where we realize there is no pill to fix everything we break. "It’s time for us to be proactive and preventative." With a warm atmosphere that has fast become a gathering place, the staff is happy to answer questions about raw foods.
After 15 years in business, Appleseed is especially proud of their new Rockledge location and being able to teach people how to empower themselves through food choices. Their café serves both raw and cooked foods, with free internet access. Appleseed’s most distinctive service is their seven day guided juice fast which includes classes, fresh juices, books, and all products necessary to help reclaim health. Scio biofeedback, blood analysis, and Iridology readings are also available by appointment. Their latest concept is live, catered concerts offered in a smoke-free, coffee house atmosphere. Owner Rene Nall’s message is, "It is an absolute honor to be serving in this capacity in our community."
Nature’s Market in Melbourne believes customer service and education are their greatest assets. Store Manager and Herbalist, Colleen Cramer, loves her job and was touched that so many customers remembered her after a three-year leave of absence. The staff always tries to accommodate customer needs and their specialties include natural foods, herbs, a skin esthetician, vitamins, homeopathics, gluten free products, pet foods, organic produce, and juice bar. Their long term goal is to expand their current 6,000 square foot location. In the meantime they will open Sundays in June and are looking into providing organic meats.
Located in downtown Melbourne, Susan’s Health Haven is new to the area yet experienced in the health industry. Owner Susan Onderko was excited about creating a unique atmosphere and adamant about an uncompromising product line much like the original health food stores from the 60’s. With food-based supplements on a private label, homemade organic baby food, cakes, and pies as well as gluten- and wheat-free products, Susan offers consultations, catering to individuals who want something unique. Her goal is "To make sure the community is properly taken care of" through special orders and deliveries, organic produce, and juicing.
Pine Tree Health Foods in Satellite Beach has a new owner, Dawn Lovejoy. The store offers a full selection of vitamins, herbs, teas, and groceries at discounted prices. Their line of health care products includes soaps, salt scrubs, shampoos, and conditioners all made by a local entrepreneur. The staff is happy to share nutritional knowledge with customers and free literature is also available.
Also beachside in Indialantic is The Health Station which carries the normal fare plus a comprehensive selection of organic wine and beer. An adjunct to the store is The Organic Jungle Restaurant which offers a full organic menu with an atmosphere of wood floors and rock waterfalls. Co-owners Dustin Barnes and Leah DiGiovanni are working on a slow conversion to a new age, specialty, organic store to include wine tasting, wine dinner, and wine pairing, moving toward more of a gourmet experience rather than the typical health food store.
Vitamins Plus Health Foods in Sebastian is Indian River County’s largest selection of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements with over 80 quality brands and 1,100 nutritional products to choose from. Owner David Nesbitt is a Certified Nutritionist and will be happy to meet or beat all competitors’ prices.
Vero Beach is the home of A Place for Health, the family owned brain child of Sherri and Jon D’Alessio. Sherri holds her Doctorate in Oriental Medicine as well as certifications in Acupressure and Iridology and Jon has his license in Acupuncture and herbal medicine. Together they work with individuals wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, while seeking prevention of sickness and disease, infant and toddler care, families with special needs for diet and supplements, and seniors looking to maintain health or to complement medical care.
Mary’s Health Hut, also in Vero Beach, provides a wide selection of vitamins, herbs, teas, cosmetics, wine, frozen foods, and vegetables. Mary McMillan started out 15 years ago in a 300 square foot store and has grown to 2,000 square feet with a full time LMT on staff. Quite an accomplishment for this seventy-six year old entrepreneur who states, "I’m my own best customer." Customer service is imperative to Mary who believes she is there to serve the public. Her message is, "Take care of your health because it is very important!"
Mary couldn’t believe the news about Wild Oats closing as, "That was somebody’s dream." In fact many health store owners and employees shopped at Wild Oats or enjoyed their café. Common feelings were shared, "a great loss…disappointed…and unfortunate for the community." Some believe little guys try harder when large corporations depart and others believe a little competition is good for the market. Kim strongly believes, "The more places there are for us to get healthy food, the better off we are." Looking toward the future, Rene states, "This will be good for the small business owner."
Whatever your thoughts, it is a sad farewell knowing it was a privilege to have Wild Oats in our back yard for nearly ten years. Our community will deeply feel the loss of this unique whole foods supermarket and we thank them for their contribution. We may have to look around in slightly different locations, but we are secure in the knowledge that our health needs will continue to be served by some very special people.
A-Live and Healthy
205 McLeod St.
1007 Pathfinder Way
501 N Courtenay Pkwy
Sunshine Health Foods
2916 S. Washington Ave.
Sunseed Food Co-op
6615 N. Atlantic Ave
461 N. Harbor City Blvd.
Organic Food Centre
862 Highway A1A
Paradise Health & Nutrition
4270 Minton Rd
7777 N Wickham Rd Ste 18
1150 Malabar Rd SE
Pinetree Health Foods
1301 S Patrick Dr
Susan’s Health Haven
924 East New Haven Ave., S-105
The Health Station:
The Organic Jungle Restaurant
2500 N Highway A1A
A Place For Health
755 27th Ave SW
Mary’s Health Hut
951 Old Dixie Hwy., #A3
Vitamins Plus Health Foods
13600 US Hwy 1, Unit 2
Village Vitamin Shop
937 17th St