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Everything Natural opened in Clarks Summit, PA in 1985, but its roots go back much further. As a
A founding member of the Electric City Food Co-op, which opened in the late seventies, Barry met like-minded Michele Zezeski. She and her sister, Donna, also became involved in the co-op and would place food orders to share with Barry. Limitations within the co-op’s ordering structure and available selection forced Barry to drive to
Barry opened Armadillo Downe in 1978. He described the Hill Section store as an “earthy-crunchy hippie granola store.” In reality, he said, it was a holistic living store. His friend Donna, who would later become his wife, presented Barry with a rack of greeting cards as a gift to commemorate the store’s opening. “At that time,” he recalled, “I thought, ‘Why not sell gifts?’” And the model was set.
In 1981, preparations to move the store to Clarks Summit fell through, and Barry’s dream was temporarily put on hold.
Just four years later, sisters Donna and Michele approached him about becoming their partner in Everything Natural. During the mid-eighties, “people thought we were crazy,” Barry explained. “Even the landlord didn’t think we’d succeed. I borrowed money from my parents to open a store that was definitely counter-culture at the time.”
Just as Barry experienced in his personal life, the public gradually showed a stronger interest in healthier foods, better living, and environmentally-friendly products. “The health awareness of the 60s carried forward and picked up speed,” Barry noted. “Yet it wasn’t until the mid-nineties that the industry got serious. That’s when bigger companies got interested, and it just accelerated from there.”
The sale of fresh, organic food got a major boost in the last decade when alar, a pesticide used specifically on apples, was declared a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent.
Barry claimed he had several “a-ha” moments as his evolution into a health authority took place, and the same could be said of the public. As more and more reports were issued about “dangerous” foods, interest grew in alternative diets and healthier food choices.
Speaking for himself, Barry sums up his attitude: “I chose health. I want to live fully for every day that I’m alive.”
Customers agree. Partners Barry, Donna and Michele, as well as their staff, often find themselves in the role of educator. Often, they said, new customers will come into the store after experiencing some sort of event or shift in thinking. For example, they may have been diagnosed with a specific medical condition by their physician, developed allergies, or just made a new year’s resolution to eat healthier foods. “They come to us looking for advice,” Barry said, “and when they learn what’s available and how it can benefit them, they become regular customers.”
Everything Natural’s staff will always recommend that customers speak with their physician before making changes to their diet or lifestyle, and they ask that customers keep their doctors informed as they progress. “We’re not the food police,” he laughed, “and we’re not anybody’s conscience. We aren’t preachy about the choices we’ve made for ourselves, yet we’re always excited to help someone else improve their life for the better.”
As he has said so many times, “Years ago, we were called health nuts. Today, we’re known as an authority.”
Learn more about healthier food choices and environmentally-friendly products by visiting Everything Natural, browsing our website, or calling 570-586-9684.