Natural life for DuBois

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

There's nothing unusual about health food stores today.

But imagine what it was like 45 years ago when Phil DuBois started the health food operation in Carson City.

"It was tough times back then because nobody knew nothing, and I had to convince everybody I was talking to what it was all about," DuBois said.

DuBois, owner of the DuBois' Health Food Center and Herb Shoppe grew up in rural Massachusetts, where he worked on dairy farms. He later moved to Wyoming, where he worked as a cowboy.

"I just got tired of the cold weather," he said. "After riding around in a saddle for three years in the cold at 30 below zero, I said there has to be a better way."

About that time, his father got a job with a Reno television station, so DuBois moved to Carson.

One day 48 years ago, his wife gave him a book on healthy eating and living.

"I read it and we changed our whole philosophy of how to eat and cook, throw out all the garbage and sugar and crap," DuBois said. "I raised all of my kids on natural foods and natural stuff, they never went to the doctor, never had a shot, anything."

DuBois said the only place in the area at that time to get health food of any kind was a small drugstore in Reno. This gave him the idea to start his own store in Carson City, which opened on May 1, 1964.

Thirty years ago, DuBois moved the store to its present location on East William Street, one block off Carson Street. As room opened up in the building, he kept expanding, adding a wide selection of natural food and household products, everything from protein drinks to gluten-free baking mixes to cosmetics. They even have bundles of white sage, used to ward off evil spirits according to DuBois.

"We are a very diversified store for the size that we are," DuBois said. "We carry a lot of stuff, a lot of homeopathic stuff, vitamins, minerals, and a lot of allergy stuff for people with food allergies. We carry natural products, good products, no artificial junk, we don't believe in that stuff."

Every available space inside the store is packed with just about every natural alternative a family could need, with a couple of notable exceptions.

"The only thing we don't carry is toilet paper," said Mya Robertshaw, the store's assistant manager. "We don't have paper products, and we don't have diapers."

DuBois said that service and knowledge sets his store apart from the supermarkets which all have health food sections these days.

"Customer service is our bread and butter," DuBois said. "We know these products because we use them, and we can help customers who have questions about them."

He pointed out that they have a very complete book section in the store for those who want to learn more about natural foods.

The store will be having a 45th birthday party celebration May 1 and 2, with balloons, treats and some of their wholesalers on hand to give out samples and answer questions about their products.

"We're still hanging in there," DuBois said. "We've been through a lot of highs and lows, and we're still here."

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