Today's second post in the Fairlawn Showcase series may be a day late due to a technical snafu at Blogger, but it certainly won't be a dollar short. If you recall, in my last post, I had the privilege of taking a pre-opening tour of the new Earth Fare location in Fairlawn. After showing me the lay of the land, my tour guide, Kristi, gave me my very own $50 gift card to do with as I pleased. I decided that in order to get just one more reader in to try out the store, I would give mine away on that blog post in addition to the two others that Earth Fare had generously donated.
After receiving the initial inquiry from Earth Fare, I immediately thought what a splendid idea it would be if I could not only spotlight this national chain based out of Ashville, NC, but also bring a locally founded and operated company based right here in northeast Ohio into the mix as well, especially as their Montrose location just celebrated its formal re-opening one week ago today to celebrate their thirty year anniversary.
Founded in 1981 by Margaret and Phillip Nabors, the couple saw a serious need for a grocery store that could provide high quality natural and organic foods along with education and information on food issues and the environment. From the very beginning, Mustard Seed Market has been a local pioneer in the tradition of strict ingredient standards - no artificial colors, flavorings or harmful chemical preservatives, no saccharin or aspartame, no irradiated foods, meats raised without the use of growth hormones and never fed animal by-products.
Now with two store locations, Solon and Montrose, and a third on the way in the Highland Square area closer to downtown Akron, the entire Nabors family has been or is currently involved in making Mustard Seed Market the pre-eminent market for those concerned with putting high quality, nutrient-dense food onto the dinner table day after day. In fact, my involvement from initial meeting through the photo shoot and follow-up emails were made through Gabe Nabors, son of Margaret and Phillip, who is the Purchasing Manager and also in charge of their social media accounts (e.g., Facebook and Twitter).
The Montrose location of Mustard Seed Market and Cafe was located at 3885 West Market Street, Akron, OH 44333 and can be reached at either 330-666-7333 or toll-free at 888-476-2379. In addition to their corporate website, they also have Facebook and Twitter accounts which are updated quite often with reminders, specials, and the occasional informative tidbit. Parking was in the large lot in front of the entrance.
Speaking of storefronts, here was Mustard Seed Market's:
As I got close to the front door, I noticed the following sign hanging right above the entrance:
Always concerned with getting their products into as many hands (and mouths) as possible, the folks at Mustard Seed had listed seven different ways in which shoppers could save money while shopping. I'll leave the description of the right sign, "Free Water," for a bit later in the post. Once inside, I met up with Gabe and we began our walk around the store, virtually documenting our trip with photographs.
Here is where the prose in the form of paragraphs will end for now as we begin the trip (as well as the tense of my verbs).
The first area we come to after entering the sliding glass doors is the produce area. As you can see from the photo above, it is large, spacious and fully stocked. Mustard Seed has a commitment to not only organically produced fruits and vegetables, but also partners with local growers to get as much seasonal product as possible.
Just to the left of the produce section (and right inside the main door) are several large wooden crates of organic mangoes, Packham pears, and Fuji apples. This is one of the many "Seed$avings!" specials that rotate throughout the store on a regular basis.
Along with whole fruits and vegetables of every kind imaginable, the folks at Mustard Seed understand that shoppers lead very busy lives. Here are shelves of pre-cut and pre-mixed containers of organic fruit, ready to eat.
One of the main sources of pride at Mustard Seed Market is the newly expanded bulk foods section of the market at the rear of the produce area. On the right side of the aisle, you will find pre-packaged bulk foods in various sized containers ready for purchase and consumption.
The left-hand side of the aisle contains a very large selection of bulk foods, ranging from organic seeds, nuts (salted and unsalted), grains, legumes, flours, coffee, rice, and much, much more.
As you exit out of the rear of the bulk foods aisle, you will find yourself at the right rear of the store in the Market Kitchen. Here, workers prepare small batch quantities of prepared foods that completely fit in with the natural and organic philosophy of the store. Small batches made throughout the day ensure that the food stays fresher, tastier, and ultimately more healthy.
In addition to the prepared foods in the cases, a sushi bar where fresh selections are made on a daily basis as well as a salad bar island directly in front of the Market Kitchen offers several dozen items from which you can build a healthy and tasty salad to meet your exact needs.
Just behind the salad bar is one of Mustard Seed Market's pride and joy, a reverse osmosis water dispenser. While the water is typically $0.25 per gallon at this dispensary (which in itself is a bargain), until May 22nd, if you spend just $5.00 at Mustard Seed, you can get 10 gallons of water FOR FREE! This popular service is one of the market's larger draws for regular shoppers.
In addition to the daily made bread in the baskets at the Market Kitchen area, additional baskets of bread are available next to the salad bar area. Having baked many a loaf of this bread in the kitchens of Mustard Seed in Solon, I can tell you that every single loaf is made daily and from scratch to ensure freshness, taste, and good nutrition.
Another of Mustard Seed Market's trademarks is their commitment to vitamins and supplements of all kinds. The photograph above is one of TWO complete aisles committed to making sure you, the shopper, have access to a myriad of choices. Lest you think you will be all alone to navigate this sea of products, the market has extremely knowledgeable staff willing to help out whenever you feel overwhelmed or are looking for something particular.
Towards the middle rear of the sales floor is the seafood and meat department. All of the ground meats (turkey, chicken, beef, and pork) are ground on-site several times a day. In addition to whole cuts of meat being available for sale, pre-marinated or fabricated (think chicken kabobs) items are also available to help the busy cook get dinner on the table faster.
This is a shot of one of the two cheese cases available at Mustard Seed. In addition, prepared cheese spreads are also available.
Behind the cheese case already pictured is the freezer case where the pre-packaged Gluten Free frozen food products live. Additionally, in the aisle across from the cheese case, the Gluten Free foods are congregated in a single area, each marked with a blue "Gluten Free" tag to aid those having to navigate the somewhat confusing world of gluten-free foods as easily as possible.
Across from the Gluten Free shelf-stable products is an entire assortment of chocolates, ranging from organic to conventional, from all parts of the world and containing different percentages of the cacao bean.
In the wine aisle, a vast selection of bottles of wine are sorted either by country of origin, kosher or organic.
Right around the corner from the wine section is the beer cooler displaying all manner of local and national brands of beer.
This painted wall mural behind the beer case emphasizes Mustard Seed Market's commitment to the philosophy of organic farming and the potential health benefits associated of food that has not been sprayed with any of the various -ides (i.e., pesticide, fungicide, herbicide, etc.).
While the dairy section contains a number of nationally available brands, local farms, such as Snowville Creamery and Hartzler Dairy, are also represented. Of course, alternatives to dairy, such as almond, rice, and soy milks are also available.
Just behind the dairy section and next to the cheese case is the entrance to the full-service cafe, located at the top of the stairs in the building's mezzanine. Here is a shot of the sales floor below, giving you a pretty good idea of the size and variety of the products under one roof.
At the top of the stairs is the entrance to the cafe. Open for lunch and dinner during the week and brunch on Sundays, the restaurant is full-service and caters to diners with dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, etc.) as well as those just looking for a tasty meal that adheres to the company's philosophy on food.
This is the counter area just inside the main entrance to the cafe. The doors in the back open up to banquet rooms where additional seating is available for catered events. Catering services are available for on and off-site events and for carry-out.
The final photo is the community calendar of events located at the very front of the store, right before you exit out into the parking lot. In addition to weekly specials (such as a Golden Buckeye Day discount for seniors), information about classes and community events are also listed.
The tour now complete, I realized I had spent nearly an hour walking around with Gabe snapping pictures and chatting with him. I thanked him for his time, gathered up all my gear and headed back out to my car knowing that I would have plenty of pictures and information to write about my tour of Mustard Seed Market and Cafe. I also made sure before I left the store to pick up the generously donated duo of $50 gift cards, good at either Mustard Seed Market location.
So now that you've walked the market with me, gentle reader, let me further entice you into trying them out for yourself. The contest for the Mustard Seed Market gift cards will work EXACTLY the same way as it did for the Earth Fare cards (well, hopefully without the snafu from Blogger causing comments to stop working). The contest begins on Saturday, May 14th at 6:00 AM and will continue until Monday morning at 5:59:59 AM. To enter for a chance to win one of the two cards, simply leave a comment on this blog post (NOT the Facebook fan page) stating that you'd like to win. If you'd like an additional chance at winning a card, share a link to this blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, blog or other social media outlet and paste that link into the comment you leave here. Regardless of how many sites you share the link on, it only counts as one extra chance.
IF YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT and Random.org happens to pick your post as the winner, I will contact you directly. If you paste in a shared link to your social media site in your comment and it is obvious how to get in touch with you, you do not have to leave an email address. If you choose not to leave an email address and it is not obvious how to contact you, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to check back on Monday morning to see if you've been selected as one of the winners. You'll have a week from the time I announce the winners to contact me to claim your prize. If not, I'll pick another winner.
Of course, regardless of whether you win one of the $50 gift cards to Mustard Seed Market and Cafe, it is clear that this local family-owned chain of stores is committed to providing you with the quality food, services, and education that can only improve the quality of your life. I recommend you visit them soon and see how they can help you make improvements to you and your family's well-being.