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?What's so great about new Spring Hill health food store? Its owner ensures everything tastes good.

Lisa Miner tasted every granola at a health food convention before choosing the most flavor-packed brand for her shop, Healthy Lisa's. It caters to customers who love to eat. BETH N. GRAY | Special to the Times
Published May 15, 2018

SPRING HILL — From corn flakes concocted of mere corn and sea salt, to vegan body soap containing no animal products, the shelves at Healthy Lisa's new shop are filled with natural foods, nutritional supplements, personal care items, even pet foods, that other local health food stores don't have.

And owner Lisa Miner defies the notion that if it tastes yukky, it's probably good for you.

"I love to eat," said the energetic 54-year-old. "I love food. I don't want anything (in my store) that's gluten-free or vegan that doesn't taste good."

And taste it, she does, because Miner's mother fed her family healthy food, "but she was a terrible cook." The adult daughter is making up for lost taste.

At the Orlando Soho Expo, the natural food industry's annual convention, Miner tasted every granola before choosing the most flavorful brand — Maple Nut Kitchen from New Hampshire — to sell in her shop. Lavender blueberry is her personal favorite; it sits at customer-eye level in a generous cereal section.

Miner is picky about her products, because the 800-square-foot store doesn't have much space.

She's made room in her refrigerated and freezer cases for aha brand vegan soups, listed as a top 2018 trend, according to Greatest.com, a national information source on food and health.

"I can't keep it on the shelf," Miner said of the "detoxifying" soups.

Mostly vegan cold items include non-dairy milks, mayonnaise, cheese, vegetable fritters, even an organic white bread. The latter, Miner said, is a hit with yoga enthusiasts from an adjacent studio, mostly women trying to get their men to eat healthy.

"I'm helping wives make their husbands happy," Miner said.

Supplements abound.

"Tons of nutritional, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar regulators," Miner said with a sweep of her arms.

Healthy Lisa's offers 11 supplements containing turmeric, "a fantastic anti-inflammatory," she said. "It's the only thing I have 11 of." She'll likely whittle the number when she learns customer preferences.

Miner has a good handle on buyers' likes from her 10 years in another health food store. She holds certifications from several nutritional goods manufacturers.

Following Healthy Lisa's soft opening in February, the shop will celebrate a ribbon-cutting at noon May 30 by the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce.

Of launching her own business, Miner said, "Why work for somebody else? Why wait?"

She formulated a business plan with direction from the local chapter of SCORE, the Senior Corps of Retired Executives.

Independent start-up businesses have a better chance of success if they start work with a business plan, said Pasco-Hernando SCORE adviser John Roof. "They put in writing your strategy. And if you go to a bank or an investor (for start-up or growth money), they want to see your plan."

Miner concedes she's competing against every established health-centered retailer and growing nutrition sections in supermarkets. She believes in her edge is with taste-tested foodstuffs, certified nutritional knowledge and an added line of natural bath and body products.

She's also added gift items that appeal to the natural lifestyle, such as crystal and stone jewelry, essential oils and diffusers, and kitchen gear.

"I like to call myself a natural convenience store," Miner said.

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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