Business Spotlight: Family-run store imparts advice on nutrition to go with products

Mark Stowe, his wife, Karen, and son Mark Jr. celebrate 50 years of the Nutrition Cottage in Boynton Beach. Mark Stowe is a licensed nutritionist. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Sallie James

Boynton Beach residents Dolores and Danielle Arsenault have been shopping at the Nutrition Cottage for 20 years for specialty items like algae-based calcium supplements, whey protein and a turmeric-infused anti-inflammation syrup.
Dolores Arsenault became a fan years ago after store owner Mark Stowe — a Florida licensed nutritionist — resolved Danielle’s digestive issues with nutritional counseling when she was a young child. Today the mother and daughter won’t shop anywhere else.
The family-owned store, which first opened for business in Texas, celebrated its 50th anniversary in November, with organic wine tasting, health food samples and giveaways. The business has been operating from 1815 S. Federal Highway since 1975.
“I would come here before going to a doctor,” Dolores Arsenault said. “(Danielle) had a lot of problems when she was younger and he straightened her out. I trust him.”
It’s that kind of loyalty that has kept the doors open so long, despite competition from national health food chains like Whole Foods. The Nutrition Cottage stocks everything from supplements and soaps to frozen foods, vegan snacks and cosmetics.
The store’s motto is “the difference is knowledge,” and customers who frequent the 1,500-square-foot business swear by the owners’ expertise.
“We call ourselves the supplement specialist. I do personal nutritional counseling. We help educate people to eat the right things to get the right results,” said Stowe, 70, a Delray Beach resident who runs the store with his wife, Karen. “We started as a small independent and that is what we are today.”
Stowe had another store on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach for many years, but doesn’t aspire to be like the big chains.
“We didn’t want to change. We like what we do in the space and size we do. We don’t want to be a Whole Foods. My intent was to educate people on nutrition or health and beauty,” Stowe said.
And that’s what he and his wife do every day the store is open.
Stowe knows what he’s talking about. He’s a former president of the Natural Products Association, which represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, and a former co-host of the radio show The Natural Grocer.
Stowe realized the value of healthy living in his 20s, when his weight ballooned to 245 pounds and he began to have headaches and feel lousy. His mother had diabetes so he knew he needed to make changes.
He began reading books by Adelle Davis, considered “the most famous nutritionist in the early to mid-20th century,” and made some lifestyle changes that truly changed his life.
His weight dropped to 190 pounds, where it remains today through “commonsense stuff in nutrition,” he said. His mission has been to share what he’s learned.
“The average person is eating wrong with a diet high in white sugar and refined flour. You wonder why we have all these ailments today because everyone is making the wrong choices,” Stowe said.
Boynton Beach resident Lou Jannacone, 60, discovered the store two years ago after he’d been ill with vertigo. He knew he had to change the way he ate and he turned to Stowe for nutritional counseling.
“Now I don’t eat processed foods. I eat whole foods. I was also very low in vitamin D and no one had ever pointed that out to me,” Jannacone said. “Today I’m here to celebrate.”

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