At the end of March, Georgia’s Farm to Market rebrands to Nourish Market and relocates to 1260 Blalock. The new location is tucked into a sleepy set of brick buildings perpendicular to Blalock that are easiest to see from the Super H parking lot.
The charming “daily farmer’s market” will continue to offer local produce and pastured meats, supplements and essential oils, healthy body care alternatives, clean-eating kitchen staples, healthful prepared foods for quick lunches, and a dizzying array of bulk teas, spices, and herbs. In its new Blalock and Westview location, owner, Candy Montano, is eager to expand products and services that make living a healthful life easier. Look for a salad bar and expanded prepared foods offerings in the near future.
Only a handful of Spring Branch natives are old enough to remember a tiny 1500 sq ft grocery in 1968 to notice that the new, but not-so-new Nourish Market will offer easier healthy living just stone’s throw from 1221 Blalock where the origin of the store began exactly 50 years ago.
In 1968, Elmo and Gigi Troup founded the Ye Seekers grocery chain that led the health foods frontier in Houston for decades. Their humble start in the 1500 square foot store focused on health food and vitamins. A few years later in 1973, the Troups expanded by buying a space vacated by a Piggly Wiggly Supermarket just a block up the street on Westview at Blalock. Today a 24 Hour Fitness dominates the space and the parking lot was recently filled with the construction of a new Bank of Hope building.
Over the years, the brand expanded and by the 1990s had three locations at Westview, in Katy, and at Bellaire and Weslayan. Ye Seekers Horizons, Inc., led the health-food movement in Houston for decades offering a widening array of products and services including in-store restaurants.
After Elmo Troup’s death in 1982, Chuck Rolland, the Troups’ son ran the business. In 1991, leaving to return to running his own business, Chuck turned the reins over to his son, Richard Rolland. He expanded services, added product variety, expanded the bakery and delicatessen, remodeled the restaurant (named Rick’s), increased the floor space from 10,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet at the Westview location (the building is still owned by Richard) and planned a 20,000-square-foot store in Bellaire.
In the late 1990s, the 3-store chain’s reign as the top health-conscious brand in Houston waned as competitors innovated. Austin-based Whole Foods and Houston-based A Moveable Feast sprouted and national chains like Kroger and Randalls cleared shelves for health food, supplements, and organic produce. Remember, that HEB that is a large and successful health food player today, did not enter the Houston market until 2001 (hard to believe they are newcomers).
Seekers began adjusting operations to respond to competition and changing health food industry trends. Rolland took cost-cutting steps eliminating lower margin areas such as in-store restaurants, its meat department, and some product lines and switched focus to selling California produce and stocking hard-to-find vitamins and supplements.
In 1999, the Seekers organization strategically filed to a reorganization bankruptcy to ward off a messy loss of store lease in Bellaire that involved Trammell Crow that had recently bought the property and 2 health food competitors.
Soon after, the Bellaire location closed. Then the Westview location followed consolidating the Seekers health food store into the one location at Dairy Ashford on I-10.
In 2002, Sandford (Sandy) Arch, who had begun working with Rolland as a partner, took the reins and the 3-decades-old Seekers was renamed Sandy’s Produce Market. Fate dealt Arch a set of personal and professional challenges that led the market to be turned over to Rick and Georgia Bost a few years later in 2009.
The Bosts were grass fed meat vendors for Sandy’s Market working from their Waller farm, Hibiscus Hill, under the brand Georgia’s Grass Fed Beef and Natural Meats. The Bosts were influential caretakers of many aspects of Houston’s wellness scene in the early 2000s after buying their farm and opening a bed and breakfast that offered event hosting called Faith in Wellness. They were also founders of Texans for Urban Sustainability focusing on the early roots of what today has become a full-blown turnabout of farming and ranching methods.
The Bosts opened a store in Brenham and later in 2012, a downtown Houston store seeking to continue to bring healthy alternatives and fresh produce to areas of Houston that did not have those options.
The downtown store became the central focus following the closing of the Brenham store and later the Dairy Ashford store from a lease dispute. But soon after, the downtown location closed and the filling station location on the Katy Freeway between Blalock and Campbell would open to become the single location. The filling station had originally been planned to be a third location.
Candy Montano opened the new store location in early 2014 planning to be in partnership with Rick Bost. Georgia had passed away in 2012 from a long battle with cancer.
Candy had worked for Ye Seekers since age 16 and continued her career throughout the changes in store offering and name. She credits her success today from working with Richard Rolland, Sandy Arch, and the Bosts. In 2014, after negotiations that resulted in the partnership idea being cast aside, she became sole proprietor of Georgia’s Farm to Market.
In the past few years, Candy has realized almost all of her teen-aged dreams of running her own wellness-focused store. Everything except her own store name.
Recently, that final missing piece was within her grasp when she lost the lease on the current Katy Freeway filling station location and decided to rebrand the store. In finding a new location, she coincidentally leased a location on Blalock south of Westview nearly across the street from where it all began for the wellness movement and for Candy. Her chosen moniker for her store is Nourish Market.
Watch for the opening of Nourish Market at the end of March 2018 just south of Super H. Follow the Nourish Market’s (nee Georgia’s Farm to Market) Facebook page for information on a grand opening party, fresh produce and product arrivals, and future seminars and in-store demonstrations.
Read more about Candy Montano’s teenage dream of serving others through running a health and wellness store becoming a reality.