Farmer’s Natural Foods celebrated their 35th anniversary this past weekend and customers were treated to a variety of samples, food and smoothies, jazz music by Bernard Rose, horseback riding courtesy of Second Chances Equine Rescue and more.
Store owners Jerry and Roberta Poppell welcomed customers offered balloons to the children and acknowledged their longevity and success is their loyal, long-term customer base.
“I can remember when we moved from our first location to this one and many of our customers, our family, helped us set this store up,” Roberta Poppell said.
The original store was less than a block away from its current location on Highway 196 near Veterans Parkway and was opened in March 1983. The original building was designed to look like a barn. Jerry Poppell, a native of Hinesville grew up working on his family’s farm. Jerry Poppel was a former educator in the Liberty County School system before he decided to learn about nutrition, whole foods and healthy lifestyles and made the career change.
Since opening in 1983 the couple said their loyal customer base has allowed them to expand the business three times.
Nine years after opening the original location, the couple bought their current location at 745 E.G. Miles Parkway. As business continued to thrive they managed to double the size of their store and adding the juice bar.
“It’s really been a blessing,” Roberta Poppell said.
Assistant Store Manager Jeffery Towery welcomed customers and offered a balloon to a young guest. A crowd gathered around the juice bar sampling vegetarian chili and sausages. Customers were treated to pancakes made with almond flour, zucchini bread, organic apple juice and mint chocolate chip ice cream made from avocado. Customer received samples of tea, immune boosters and health products and gift baskets were awarded.
Outside Andrea Doolitttle, Director of Second Chances Equine Rescue saddles up Cheyenne. Towery walks outside to greet her and pet the horse.
“This is the miracle child,” Doolittle explained. Cheyenne arrived at her rescue in bad shape with a tumor that everyone thought would lead to her death. “That’s when I picked up the phone and started calling Jeffery.”
Doolittle said they used what Towery recommended and the tumor eventually shrunk then burst out through one of the horse’s eye. It is the only scar it left behind.
“I remember out first store where we sold primarily things like Brewer’s Yeast and Lecithen,” Roberta Poppell said. “To see how far we’ve come is amazing. “I see customers come in with their children and I can recall when these parents were once children themselves coming here with their parents. We’ve served generations of families here.”
Jerry Poppell arrived at the store later in the day after performing on his guitar at the Spring Jam concert held that day at Bryant Commons Park.
In addition to their loyal customer base the couple attribute their success to their long-time employees and customer service. They also understand that people are interested in being healthy, and there is a heightened awareness about the dangers of processed and genetically modified foods, tainted meats and pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables.
Listening and understanding their customers’ needs the couple, is open to bringing in new products, researching the latest information on health and nutrition and passing the information along to their clients.
The store offers a variety of nutritional vitamins and supplements, organic produce, natural remedies and beauty products. At their juice bar, they offer smoothies and fruit-and-vegetable drinks that are designed to boost physical performance and support immune systems.
As often as possible, the store offers free lectures presented by area experts. They cover a wide range of topics, such as organic farming, obesity, juicing, weight-loss and nutrition. They periodically offer movie nights so customers can come in and watch films and documentaries regarding the food industry, farming and general health topics.