The Tree of Life Nutritional Foods store has set it roots down in Chewelah and it’s ready to branch out. Store owner Tanya Rodriguez has been working hard on getting the town’s newest store up and running, currently having a “soft opening” to show community members what Tree of Life is all about and to get their input to help place final orders for products.
“My goal is to have our customers improve the way they look and feel about themselves,” Rodriguez said. “Lifestyle modification is the key to achieving good health for life. Eating well simply means making the right food choices without deprivation. We want to nutritionally inspire each person to pursue all their dreams and goals with better mental health, stable emotions and more happiness. Eat well…feel good…look great. Fuel your body to live your life to the fullest potential.”
The nutritional foods store is a lifestyle change for Rodriguez – who has made a living going out in the woods with a ballcap and a chainsaw in the tree service business for 16 years. Rodriguez and her husband Scott are both from Zillah. After getting a house in the Chewelah area, they kept spending more and more time in Stevens County than southern Washington.
Now Rodriguez — whose dream was always to open a store like this — is trading in the chainsaw for all-organic, non-GMO products that have already perked the interest of people in the community. Located by the Chewelah Senior Center, the store is now open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but this isn’t the finished product. While Rodriguez has certainly set the atmosphere with an earthy feel, she’s still ordering in product and getting input from customers for the official grand opening on July 11.
“We’ll see how it goes and adjust accordingly,” she said.
Getting product won’t be a problem either, as Tree of Life has its own refrigerated truck. They get their produce from Zillah Pro Farms, which is one of the largest Organic growers in Zillah and is family-owned and operated by Paul Stonmentz and his two sons, Ryan and Shane. The store’s other products come from Azure Standard in Moro, Oregon and Andy’s out of Walla Walla. They’ll be using their truck to make weekly runs for products.
Before starting the business one year ago, Scott and Tanya went around town to make sure no other business was doing the same thing and in May 2015 they signed a lease with Tim and Patti Kaiser.
“They have been such wonderful people to work with and have helped us tremendously on this new adventure,” Tanya said. “Their storefront was the perfect fit for our store. Also, a big thank you to Ace Hardware for having all of the stuff we needed during our remodel process.”
A company in Spokane designed air-tight lids for the product bins, while there is space for bread, spices, fresh produce, frozen foods and local milk and eggs. They’re also selling a collection of natural oils and soaps as well. Rodriguez said that one of the first things people usually comment on is the selection of whole grains. The store’s shelves are movable so the Tree of Life can host cooking classes by accredited instructors that can show people how to eat healthy. There will be no charge to the public for the cooking classes.
“This store has been the perfect fit,” Tanya said. “It’s definitely been a good thing and a great experience. I know it’s going to take a couple years for it to take off but I’m in it for the long haul. Our customers are our biggest asset and we are here to provide you with the highest quality of customer service.”
All of the shelves in the store were designed by Scott and Tanya and the level of craftsmanship can be seen in them. Tanya’s whole goal was to capture the customer as they walked in the door with a great smell, the earthy wood feel and the color scheme.
And at the cash register will be Alicia Adelsperger, who Scott and Tonya hired after she recognized them at her previous place of work after they’d been out of town for weeks.
“She automatically knew who we were and I knew I wanted somebody local that knew the community,” Tanya said. “She captured me with how much — she was a people person.”
Tree of Life is in the process of getting EBT for seniors on a budget.
The store is located on 107 N. 3rd St. E and can be called at 936-2874. They also have a Facebook page called “Tree of Life Nutritional Foods.”
They are currently in the process of having a website designed and will share that information once it’s tested and up and running.
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff