Store thrives on positive changes Natural foods and facts are hallmarks of Red Bank store

Staff Writer

By linda denicola

Store thrives on positive changes
Natural foods and facts are hallmarks
of Red Bank store


JEFF HUNTLEY  A LABOR OF LOVE — André Cholmondeley and Cheri Joisne put out organic produce at their store, Second Nature, Broad Street, Red Bank. JEFF HUNTLEY A LABOR OF LOVE — André Cholmondeley and Cheri Joisne put out organic produce at their store, Second Nature, Broad Street, Red Bank.

At Second Nature Natural Foods and Products store in Red Bank, the name lets you know what the priorities are.

"Food is the focus here in the store," according to Cheri Joisne, who along with André Cholmondeley owns the store. "It has been from the beginning. One of our big goals is to promote organic foods. People are becoming fed up with pesticides. We’re one of the stricter stores. We even sell organic crackers.

"Our juice bar and soup bars are 90 percent organic," Joisne noted.

When Joisne and Cholmondeley opened the store on Broad Street in 1995, they were counting on two things moving in the right direction.

The first thing was the growth in the natural and organic foods market, and the second was the borough itself.

They were right about both. When the store opened, consumption of organic foods was on the rise and that trend has continued.

"The health food industry has quite an infrastructure. There are many trade shows," Joisne said of the industry today. "There are two big ones, Baltimore, Maryland, in September and Anaheim, California, in March. There are thousands of manufacturers, brokers and producers at these shows. It’s a great opportunity to find out about new products and tried-and-true products. Everything is on promo, so we get some great deals," she noted.

"They enable us to communicate directly with people in the companies," Cholmondeley said.

"We also get magazines like Natural Food’s Merchandiser. There are four magazines like that. They’re a wonderful source of information," Joisne added.

At the same time the industry was coming into its own, Red Bank’s downtown was still in the early stages of its resurgence, so coming to Broad Street was a bit more risky then than it is today.

"RiverCenter hadn’t been around for long, and most of the investment firms weren’t here yet," Joisne said. "There were many empty stores, but we felt that things were going to turn around."

According to Joisne, a large part of the demographic for the health food industry is professional and educated. "We knew that we had a good chance of making it here. Because of the affluence in this area, there are a lot of people who can afford alternatives that are not covered by health insurance.

"Our customer base is very diverse, from kids to retirees and a lot of Europeans who are used to fresh organic foods," Joisne said.

And, she added, "A big part of our lunch crowd is stockbrokers. You know, people in suits."

"We’ve really changed a lot of peoples’ lives," Cholmondeley says. "A lot of guys from the brokerage companies would come in for water, then an apple, then salad. Now they shop for home here."

While food is the focus, the store is more than a place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables. Patrons can get information, advice and something to think about, even if it’s not food related.

"People come in at lunch and bring something up because they know they’ll get an honest response," Joisne said.

"Sometimes people tell us we shouldn’t be so open about our views," Cholmondeley noted, but the large windows on Broad Street give them a place that lends itself to getting a message out.

"So many people come in to thank us for the information. We have great discussions going on in the store — and not just about nutrition, but about anything, including the recent election," he said.

Anyone can tell by reading the notices in the store and on the store windows, what this couple values. "We put up quotes from famous vegetarians," Joisne said. "People seem to like that. And customers put signs up about everything from exhibits, meetings, apartments, classes and political and social movements.

"We’re advocates for good nutrition and a clean environment," Joisne said. "There is some solid science behind all of this," Cholmondeley added.

The couple believes that it is important to give people the information they need to make informed decisions. "We’re big on getting information out to people so they can educate themselves. We want people to change their habits and their diets," Cholmondeley said.

It is a change both made for themselves years ago, and it played a key role in leading them to the Red Bank store.

Both are vegans, but Cholmondeley has taken it one step further than Joisne — he doesn’t eat cooked food, just raw. He has been a vegetarian for 18 years, and a vegan for five years. "When we first met, we both ate a healthy diet, but every year we learn more," Cholmondeley explained.

"What drives both of us is concern for the environment. We wanted to back off from all of the garbage we create. It takes a big bite out of the environment," he said. "Health is a great fringe benefit."

Along with the food and advice, the store has a vast inventory of supplements and herbs.

Joisne is an herbalist who has studied with David Winston. "He’s one of the top five living herbalists," she noted. "I’m working toward an AHG (American Herbalist Guild) certification. I can give information about herbs, such as what works as an anti-inflammatory. I can also tell people about what’s naturally found in certain foods."

And for people who need more than the advice that Joisne can give them, they can find out about alternative practitioners in the area, like acupuncturists, message therapists and chiropractors who may be able to help them.

The store is open at 10 a.m. seven days a week. It closes at 8 p.m. weekdays, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Cholmondeley’s e-mail address is andre@monmouth.com.