If you’re a glutton for gluten, you’re out of luck at Los Angeles Avenue’s newest store. As the name suggests, at Healing Heart Vitamins & Health Food, you’ll find vitamins. You’ll also find pasta, flour—and even cookies—but you won’t find anything with gluten.
As a representative for various health product manufacturers, Tawny Lovett was spending a large portion of her life in her car, driving from store to store and realized instead of delivering to others’ establishments, she could draw on her knowledge and passion for healthy living and open her own store.
“I thought, ‘If they can do it, I can too,’ ” she said.
In mid-March, she found a location next to in the Albertson’s shopping center and began working like mad to prepare for her June 1 opening. She purchased much of her equipment from other stores, including a Thousand Oaks gluten-free food shop that was going out of business, and pulled all-nighters to get ready.
“If you’ve seen Project Runway, it was like that; crazy long hours,” she said. “I was e-mailing vendors at midnight.”
The hard work has paid off because the store is in order and, so far, the response has been good.
Knowing everything in the store is gluten-free, shoppers who have an intolerance or allergy to gluten don’t have to spend time reading labels for each and every item.
“It’s wonderful for me,” said shopper Maureen Kajiwara of Moorpark, whose children have intolerances for various foods. Now, she said, she won’t have to drive all over the county to do her shopping because the items she needs can be found in one spot.
“If it’s a quicky, my whole life is easier. I was so happy to find it,” she said.
While at the store, Kajiwara even requested some bread items Lovett isn’t yet carrying, though plans to by the end of June.
Gluten-free wasn’t necessarily going to be the theme for Lovett’s store when she first decided to start a health food shop, but attending a conference about celiac disease opened her eyes to the plight of the 1 in 133 Americans who suffer from the genetic gluten-intolerance disorder.
That’s when she decided to make shopping easier for them by having a place where gluten simply isn’t allowed. She also tries to avoid artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners and other additives in the products she carries, which include personal care items, cleaning products, items for babies and young children and her own Healing Heart line of vitamins and other supplements.
Healing Heart is at 549 West Los Angeles Ave. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and closed Sundays.