Natural Grocers opens today on East Colfax Avenue

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Vitamin Cottage got its start in the mid-'50s, when Margaret and Philip Isely started a door-to-door business that emphasized natural foods. They opened their first storefront in Lakewood in 1963 and called it Vitamin Cottage because of both its healthy mission and the shop's country-cottage appearance. Although subsequent stores didn't look like cottages, they continued the down-home feel of Vitamin Cottage. The chain went public in July 2012 and today is known as Natural Grocers -- but the mission remains the same. And a new store opening at 8:56 a.m. today in Capitol Hill will show just how seriously Natural Grocers takes its mission to not only feed, but educate the public.

See also:Natural Grocers ditches disposable grocery bags

The store, at 1433 Washington Street, will provide a healthy option for those who live in the area, and promises to become a neighborhood gathering place. This is one of the few Natural Grocers stores in Colorado with a community room offering free WiFi, coffee and tea, as well as a demonstration kitchen with free cooking classes.

Opening-day festivities include samples and prize drawings. Katie Bauer, holistic nutrition therapist, clinical herbalist and therapeutic chef, will offer an "Eating for Vitality and Optimal Health" from noon to 1:30 p.m. today. And on Saturday, the store will host a sample fare, where many vendors will introduce their products.

True to its name, Natural Grocers does does not sell any product containing artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup. "Every product goes through a rigorous testing before they go to the shelves. We don't carry something if we do not believe in the ingredients," says store manager Barb Zalewski.

The store also stocks information to help steer customers towards healthy eating. A full-time nutrition coach is also available to help shoppers find the right supplements and ingredients for their specific needs, becuse Natural Grocers believes in "educating the public, not only selling a product," Zalewski explains.

Natural Grocers now operates 32 stores in Colorado and 46 in 11 other states, mainly west of the Mississippi River.

For more information, go to naturalgrocers.com

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