OLDSMAR — A chain of health food stores based in Hernando and Citrus counties is expanding to the south, and its newest location is in Oldsmar.
Some 200 people recently showed up for the opening of Get Healthy, located on Tampa Road. Its owners hope visitors liked what they saw — an array of products and services intended to help people maintain good health.
"There is no magic pill for people to get healthy," said store manager Kathy Scanland, "but getting well often involves a lifestyle change including nutrition and portion control."
Get Healthy is designed as a one-stop mecca for those aspiring to a healthy lifestyle. The store is stocked with vitamins, supplements, nutritional drinks and organic foods, including wine and gluten-free beer, along with a cafe serving organic meals.
A "Zen healing center" provides services including acupuncture, massage and a variety of other therapies. A performance lab offers training and consultations for athletes.
Get Healthy's two owners readily acknowledge that there are other excellent health food stores in the area that provide additional services. But they see their chain as distinctive, and they say the healing center contributes to that difference.
"We focus on nutrition, wellness and education," said Laura DeWitt, who owns the establishment along with Karen Greenway. "We do a lot more face-to-face with our customers to find the right fit for each individual."
The owners thrive on exercise. Dewitt, 51, is a triathlete who bikes 100-200 miles per week. Greenway, 50, is a golfer.
Both emigrated from England to Brooksville on business visas in 1990. They now own four Get Healthy stores, with the Oldsmar location being the most recent and the largest.
DeWitt, an energetic entrepreneur who is married to Tampa Bay Times writer Dan DeWitt, lives in Brooksville with her husband and their two teenage sons. Brooksville, though, was just step one in her business career.
"We bought an existing store in Brooksville when we arrived," she said of herself and Greenway. "It was much smaller, but we changed the name and built it up."
Two other stores followed, one in Spring Hill in 1992 and the other in Inverness in 1999.
Plans for an Oldsmar store were hatched when Dewitt met Oldsmar businessman and venture capitalist Pablo Santa Cruz, a fellow athlete who also ran a cycling team. DeWitt told him about her stores.
"He came up to Brooksville to see it," she said of the original store, "and really liked our brand."
Santa Cruz decided he'd like to partner with the two women and open an expanded store with a cafe in Oldsmar, near his office. The partners spent a year looking for a suitable location.
"We had the idea of bringing everything together," said DeWitt, "including exercise, nutrition, massage and other services."
Each of the other services, such as the Zen healing center, leases a portion of the facility from DeWitt and Greenway.
Susan Compton, a co-owner of the Zen center, said her customers mainly come with pain issues. "They come for relief from physical pain," she said, "but we often find an emotional pain underlying the physical."
The businesswomen plan to open more Get Healthy stores in the coming years, spreading the word on what they view as a worthy product.
"Health is an attitude," said DeWitt.
Correspondent Elaine Markowitz can be reached at [email protected]