The health food store. in downtown Houston is a community store.
“It’s like Whole Foods and Trader Joe had a baby!” said a customer named Stacy.
Founded in 2017 by Kathy Richardson, the health food store. is located at 103 S. Grand Ave. in a restored 1913 commercial building. A black string light hanging from the original tin ceiling, exposed brick walls, and repurposed shelving from decades past give the store an old-world feel.
Inventory includes organic and fresh eggs, milk, produce, mushrooms and meat from more than a dozen local farms, providing customers with quality local food six days a week. Handicrafts of wool, pottery, jewelry, and farmhouse decor from Texas County artists add beauty to the space and are available for purchase.
“I’ve always wanted a health food store in Houston,” said Richardson, a retired dietitian. “I love bulk cereals, nuts and seeds because I used to bake a lot. I am interested in health and I love history. Owning this store, working alongside an amazing team of people and meeting amazing customers has been a blessing.
“health. joy. all things good. is the store’s motto, with all the little letters and a period at the end of each segment.
“the health food store. is little, but it makes a statement,” Richardson said.
Then came November 2021, when Kathy met Sally and a new chapter began.
On January 1 of this year, Sally Wiersema became the new owner of the health food store, and she is happy.
The eighth generation of her family to be born in Howell County, Sally spent half her youth growing up in Willow Springs surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, but has lived the last two decades in Columbus, Ohio. . She returned to the area with her husband, Ryan Lawrence, and 18-year-old son, Will, the last week of December.
“We were ready to go out of town,” Sally said. “It feels like home.”
Lawrence is an entrepreneur (and a great Friday soup maker at the health food store) and plans to build a residence on property in Elk Creek while the family temporarily resides in housing in Willow Springs.
“I know this place pretty well,” said Will, the store’s technical advisor. “I spent two weeks here every summer.”
Many cousins and lots of float trips made it easier for the family, which includes two dogs and a cat, to move.
“It was a longtime dream for Sally to have her own store,” Ryan said. “She seems to have been preparing for this almost her entire life.”
When she was nine years old, Sally’s parents, Chuck and Patty Wiersema, moved to Warsaw, Indiana and opened a health food store. Sally stepped in, starting with bulk packing food and quickly taking care of the cash register. She didn’t look back.
“I love working,” Sally said. “I was paid $2.50 an hour and bought all my clothes from then on.”
the health food store. brings good memories.
“I love the smell of the reserve, all the nuts, seeds and grains,” Sally said. It reminds me of growing up.
Sally’s impressive work experience includes her early days at Northwest Natural Foods in Columbus, Ohio, which was once the third largest health food store in the world. Economic developments took over and eventually Sally found herself working at America’s largest Whole Foods store.
A team leader, Sally was responsible for several departments including supplements, body care, home decor, books and clothing. Her responsibilities included fresh produce for a time, and she was in charge of the entire building’s holiday decorations.
Sally helped create new stores, including more than a dozen.
A temporary stint as a vegan cook for Forks Over Knives cookbook author Del Shroufe and Wellness Forum physician Pam Popper gave Sally a new perspective on local produce.
“I learned to cook there, she says, and not to be afraid of spices and onions. We have spices here, fresh and of great variety.
“I tried to leave for a little while,” Sally said of her experience with Whole Foods, “but I came back. On February 6, I would have been at Whole Foods for 15 years.
“Sally is friendly, passionate and compassionate,” said her mother, Patty Wiersema, “and she has a great knowledge base. She’s always on the lookout for new things. She far exceeded what I knew.
Supplements are some of Sally’s favorite knowledge, but the store includes something for everyone. There are many specialty food products for gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan or meat lovers.
“You’ll find things here that you won’t find anywhere else,” she said.
all things good.
It was a cold, but warm and cozy day at the health food store in downtown Houston. The cookies had just been baked and the locally roasted coffee was hot.
Sally Wiersema, petite and energetic, rushed to the back to answer the phone, holding the packaging of a product a customer had brought in to see if she could order it. A new shipment of produce lay on the kitchen table, ready to be put in their newly organized place.
Guests are greeted with an old fashioned friendliness and name.
“I’m learning names,” Sally said. “It will take time, but I’m trying!”
“Sally is the best friend you’ll ever have,” said longtime acquaintance Michaela. “She is nurturing and healing. Her knowledge of supplements and foods is amazing.
“I love working and I love helping people,” Sally said. “I want happier, healthier people. Everyone has been very friendly to us and the customers have been great. I’m glad to be here.”
The phone number for the health food store is 417-967-3000. The address is 103 S. Grand Ave. in Houston.