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Food and Drink Features

Turnip the beet

Akin’s celebrates 78 years of local health food and pioneering national wellness.

Christina Nihira September 25th, 2013

Akin’s Natural Foods Market celebrates its 78th anniversary this month with specials, product samples and more at its 2924 NW 63rd St. and 2370 W. Memorial Road locations.

Akin's crew
BY: Shannon Cornman

The stores were a pioneer in natural foods and supplements in the metro area. They also were one of the first natural food markets in the nation.

Even as late as 1980, there were less than half a dozen such markets across the country, according to grocery market data released by Whole Foods Market.

Akin’s continued innovation has sustained it in an ever-changing and competitive market of higher-end, natural products.

The company has headquartered in Tulsa since its inception in 1935. It has grown to five stores in the Sooner state, plus three in surrounding states and a Florida affiliate chain.

Quail Springs Marketplace, located just off north Pennsylvania Avenue, store assistant manager Chris Turner believes customer service and keen knowledge sets it apart from competitors.

“Akin’s caters to helping [with] a person’s health decisions,” said Turner. “All of our employees are trained in supplements and [we have] specialists in [certain] fields.”

He added that some staff work professional jobs outside the store and spend time working shifts simply because they enjoy assisting people. They range from chiropractors to physicians, in addition to other healthcare providers.

One such practitioner is Amy Quick, a naturopathic doctor who takes a holistic approach to medicine and life issues. Her interests range from stress management, weight loss and diet to herbology and iridology (an alternative medicine belief that studies eyes and the color of irises).

“I help people I wouldn’t see in a clinic,” Quick said. “I like giving an alternative that is complementary with allopathic medicine. I believe they work together.”

“Allopathic” is a term used commonly by those who subscribe to a homeopathic way of thinking. According to merriam-webster. com, it is a system of medicine that aims to combat disease by using remedies instead of surgery or traditional medicine.

Additionally, Akin’s employees give customers tips on how to care for their skin, implement a gluten-free diet or ease the misery of allergies. David Dodson, a company employee for more than a decade.

“I like working here because I’m always learning more nutritional information,” Dodson said. “They keep you abreast of what’s going on, and you get [to share it] and help people.”

The grocery section offers products for the health-conscious consumer, including vegetables and fruit that is grown from organic seed, free from pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Akin’s has integrated the natural market into a serious supermarket format. Here, one can purchase cleaning products free of chemicals and other toxins.

Shopping at Akin’s is more about a lifestyle than stopping by for specific goods.

Stores such as Akin’s are places where people like to engage in conversation and ask questions. Its employees work hard to create an attractive and interesting social atmosphere that draws in loyal shoppers.

Fido and Garfield aren’t left behind, either. Akin’s sells a variety of pet products. Including food, common supplies include vitamins and homeopathic merchandise for the furry friends in life.

Moving farther into the depths of the store aisles, shelves are organized with voracious variety. For example, tea. Loose or bagged? Steeped or served over ice? Green or black? This is in addition to a full accompaniment of juices, lemonades, sparkling waters, international coffees and sodas.

The freezer case is stocked full of entrees, frozen veggies and ice cream while the dairy features the usual milk, cream and cheese. Carbs are fully loaded via chips, breads and crackers. Some are sold gluten-free.

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