At some point in recent history, it's probably happened to you. You experienced a Whole Paycheck moment, and it was at once shameful and glorious — that moment when you emerge from Whole Foods Market crying not because the organic produce is so beautiful, not because that vegan vanilla cake is so damned good (and they won't give you the recipe), and not because you love how healthy and green you feel when you're done shopping.
You're crying because you just dropped your life savings (and possibly your gas money to get home) on just a few days' worth of GMO-free, organic, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced food stuffs. It's a turning point from which you, and your checking account, will never return.
And for good reason: Recently, city attorneys for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and San Diego recently reached an $800,000 settlement with Whole Foods Markets after a one-year, statewide investigation uncovered widespread pricing violations, including charging customers more than the advertised price for a large number of food items at more than 70 California stores.
It's no wonder people feel they can't afford (and shouldn't be wasting hard-earned money) on a healthy lifestyle, organic food, or all-natural products. But hey, South Florida, listen up. There may be an alternative to Whole Foods — and it's not another big-name chain grocer.
A new, locally owned natural health food and vitamin market is looking to take over Broward and Palm Beach counties, one with a mission statement proclaiming its goal to make healthy living affordable and educational — for everyone. That grocer is Tunie's, and the brand will be opening the first of several supersized stores in Fort Lauderdale later this month.
Tunie's isn't new, however. Founded by Al Forman in 1993, the store was named after Forman's mother — specifically her Yiddish name — as a way to honor the family's mission to improve community health by making natural foods, supplements, and nutritional education affordable and accessible to all.
In operation for more than 20 years, Tunie's' main claim to fame is that it offers 100 percent all-natural groceries and supplements, along with vitamins, organic produce, health and beauty products, and pet products. The first two stores — including the original Coral Springs location and three-year-old Palm Beach Gardens store — are best-known for offering lower-prices on a variety of natural products, as well as hosting weekly free health education seminars.
On July 25, the company will welcome its new Fort Lauderdale store, a 20,000-square-foot health food mecca located at Federal Highway and Sunrise Boulevard. Here, customers will be able to find more than 30,000 brand-name products similar to the offerings at Whole Foods, as well as hundreds of other natural products, but at significantly reduced prices.
Today, the company is owned and operated by South Florida native Taylor Hamilton, who purchased the brand in 2010. Carrying on the Tunie's tradition, each retail location continues to carry only organic produce, sourced locally whenever possible, as well as a wide variety of all-natural products, health-related nutritional counseling, and weekly wellness seminars.
Hamilton says he considers the Tunie's educational focus one of the most important aspects of his company's approach to health and wellness, including free and unlimited access to a state licensed nutritionist, a full-time staff member who is available for private consultations at each Tunie's location.
"We focus on educating our customers to empower them to make informed decisions about what types of foods they eat and supplements they take," he said recently. "Tunie’s is all about making healthy living affordable to everyone."
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Like the Coral Springs and Palm Beach Gardens locations, the new Fort Lauderdale store will feature an all-organic juice ba, as well as a variety of grab-and-go pre-made meals.
The store will also feature a new philanthropic program that will support a number of local nonprofit organizations that encourage a healthy lifestyle, said Hamilton. The fundraising initiative, dubbed "Tunie’s Makes Cents," will allow customers to use their reusable shopping totes to receive 5-cent tokens that can be donated to one of four local charities. Tunie’s will donate the total amount received in each donation box to the featured nonprofits at the end of each business quarter, and new charities will be selected every three months.
Tunie’s Fort Lauderdale is located at 900 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Visit tunies.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.