Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Starflower Foods is a natural fit

Irish Oatmeal Sprouted Wholegrain Cereal. Free-range chicken broth. Vegan Cherry Chocolate Bumble Bars. Prickly Pear Organic Energy Drink. Walnut oil. Flaxseed oil. Essential oils. Unfiltered. Biodegradable. Hypoallergenic. Chemical-free. Additive-free. Gluten-free.

Product labels like these along with the news that Starflower Natural Foods is open for business will be gentle on the ears of local health food fans. Located at 142 Dayton Street, the store will host their Grand Opening celebration this Friday-Sunday, Nov. 28-30. Celebration hours will be: Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Call (937) 767-1888 for more information.

New store owner and manager Marnie Neumann has been in the health food business off and on for 20 years. “I know what it takes to make a good health food store,” she said as she prepared the shelves that will feature a fresh new stock of vitamins and supplements. “I eat this way. I take the remedies myself. I’ve been practicing homeopathy and taking herbs and supplements since my work in health food began. It keeps the doctor away. I really believe in it.”

Neumann, who has lived in Yellow Springs since 1989, previously worked at Springs Natural Foods (at the same location) and before that at the Organic Grocery (now home to Main Squeeze). “I actually helped to open [Springs Natural Foods],” she said, “so I know what’s involved. I know the customers and I’m familiar with the community.” In August, when she found out the owner was selling the store, Neumann, who had been store manager since 2005, heard destiny’s call. “I felt like I was the perfect person to do the job,” she said.

In addition to her local experience, Neumann’s background also includes bulk food manager for a health food store in Seattle. “I’ve always had an interest in natural remedies,” she explained. “I’m a big fan of simple, practical cures.” Her vision for the store is a bright, cheery space, fully stocked with natural foods, organic foods, homeopathic remedies, supplements and herbs, bulk foods, cleaning supplies, and health and beauty products. With a commitment to special requests and new stock arriving daily, she’s enjoying the chance to try out all the ideas she’s collected over the years. “Now that I’m owner,” she said, “I have the buying power to implement the changes I’ve always wanted to see.”

Neumann doesn’t mind the hard work that comes from starting her own business, which she sees as an investment in the community. Mindful of the gamble of taking on a new store venture during financially troubled times, she remains optimistic and grateful to the previous owner for giving her the opportunity to create her very own fruit juice-sweetened, non-toxic, additive-free dream store.

“It just seems like a natural fit for me.”

Originally published in the Yellow Springs News.

Susan Gartner is a freelance writer and photographer for the News.