BELLVILLE – The bright one story building south of Bellville is home to Whitaker’s Natural Market.
Owners Jocelin and Marc Whitaker are focused on providing foods, vegetables, all-natural dietary supplements — and old fashioned advice — to customers.
Even before the recent closure of Stood’s Market in Bellville, their market was a success. They said customers expressed concern about the closing of Stoodt’s.
Another store, the historic Feed Mill in Fredericktown, also has closed. Owners there said they faced competition from big box stores.
Jocelin and Marc said their store is growing, and they have exceeded sales estimates.
They recently were named a finalist in business of the year awards given by Richland County officials.
Jocelin Whitaker said they provide beef, goat, chicken, lamb, bison and turkey from local providers. The store still sells Graeter’s ice cream.
There is a selection of organic produce: butternut squash, ginger, garlic and onions.
A special section features dietary supplements, and there is an area of various-sized portions of items like flours, nuts and baking ingredients.
On one table is a display of special dog food items, a feature this month. It is a “theme table,” Jocelin said.
The store also handles Melissa and Molly toys, for kids. One popular container holds a log cabin play set, made with plastic pieces.
Jocelin Whitaker said those toys are good, because they help kids be creative and “use their minds.”
She said is in the store on Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Sundays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. She brings lunch into the store every day for husband Marc.
There are two part-time employees. Jocelin’ father helps with marketing and her mother does bagging for bulk items.
Running the store isn’t easy, she said. Marc Whitaker puts in 60-hour weeks. She said she works from home, doing bookkeeping and ordering. They both go to trade shows and hunt for special items, like gluten free or dairy free products.
The store offers classes. A flier lists upcoming events.
On Jan. 21 there will be a class on the keto diet. It starts at 6 p.m., it is about “The good, bad and ugly about the Keto diet.”
There is a GAPS diet recipes event Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.
In March the class will be on “The real truth about the dangers of stevia and Xylitol.” This is also at 6 p.m., on March 17.
Jocelin Whitaker said she is asked to speak on topics like those on the flier at other locations.