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  1. Pasco

New Port Richey market brings healthy food within walking distance of downtown residents

Wright's Natural Market opens in downtown New Port Richey. JENNIFER LIMA | Special to the Times
Published Dec. 28, 2018

After more than a year of prep work, downtown New Port Richey residents finally can walk to a grocery store. Wright's Natural Market, previously at 6630 U.S. 19, has joined the businesses on Main Street. It is open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday through Saturday.

The owners worked for months to renovate and bring the store up to city codes. The space that served as an IGA supermarket in the 1970s now is full of bright aisles, fresh local produce and a café compete with indoor and outdoor seating. The café serves locally roasted, organic, Fair Trade coffee and vegan smoothies made to order.

"With the city's renewed economic development efforts and the renovation of the 5800 Main building, the timing was right for us to move downtown," said Jeff Wright, co-owner of the market. "Kathy and I wanted to contribute to the city's efforts to create a walkable downtown district, but our main goal was to be able to make fresh, local food more readily available to the residents of New Port Richey."

Shoppers also can find a self-serve herbs-and-spices section, health supplements, natural cleaning products, pet foods, and organic and vegan products such as Daiya, Beyond Meats, Badia and more.

The company is dedicated to building up the local and Florida economies, according to Lia Gallegos, the store's assistant manager and marketing director. As the seasons change, more local crops will be available for purchase.

"It's impressive," said downtown resident Mark Esbjerg. "I live just three blocks away, and I'm very excited to have a local market where I can find the things I need. I've got a recipe that calls for chicken broth, and I was able to walk right over and get it."

The family-owned and -operated health food store was started almost 25 years ago by the husband and wife team of certified nutritionists and supplement specialists. In addition to products for sale, they offers shoppers one-on-one consultations, product and nutritional information. And they host monthly "walk-about" sessions covering topics such as "Understanding food labels" and "How to eat healthy food on a budget."

"We're really happy to be in this location, and the feedback we've gotten from the community has been great," said Meghan Wright, store employee and the owners' daughter . "They say they love the store. It looks bigger, and it looks prettier, and the walkability from downtown or the festivals is great. They can come in and grab a coffee or a smoothie, or they can do some shopping."

According to the store owners, more is on the way. In the coming weeks, they expect new grab-and-go products to fill the shelves, as well as wine, beer and kombucha beer. They also plan to add a bike rack on the east side of the building.

"We are thrilled that our beautiful downtown, New Port Richey continues to thrive with the addition of Wright's market," said Liz Juffin, president of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce."With it's healthy vibe, friendly staff and a huge selection of items not easily found in traditional grocery stores, we are confident that Wright's will quickly become a must-visit shop and further enhance the vibrancy of our downtown shopping and dining options."

The owners will host a grand re-opening in conjunction with the store's 25th anniversary on Feb. 23, from 8 am to 8 pm. Festivities will include local musicians, chalk artists, workshops, giveaways and more. Details will follow on the store's Facebook page.

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