On March 1, the ribbon was cut and the doors officially opened to Tacoma Fresh at 6210 29th St. NE. This grand opening celebration went on throughout the day, as customers ventured in to taste free samples and see what this new source for healthy living is all about.
Owner and entrepreneur William Manzanares transformed his North Point Smoke Shop into the Tacoma Fresh convenience store in order to offer the public a way to eat healthy on the go. Stocked with a big variety of natural and organic foods, customers will have a lot to choose from, and this is only the beginning. Manzanares said he would gauge what customers are looking for and stock those items that his clientele wants.
Tacoma Fresh sells pre-packaged foods along with fresh produce, salads, sandwiches and ready-made meals, all prepared in the Tacoma Fresh kitchens. Organic refrigerated items range from cage-free eggs and grass-fed meats, cheeses and milk, to dairy- and gluten-free frozen treats and yogurts. If you’ve got the munchies, there are quinoa chips and rice chips, no-sugar-added cookies and raw snacks. If you want to “grow your own,” Tacoma Fresh stocks the High Mowing brand of organic vegetable seeds that are 100 percent organic and non-GMO product certified. Tacoma Fresh even has a little indoor greenhouse with flowers and plants for the garden.
Just about everything at Tacoma Fresh is locally sourced. For example, raw honey is available in many different and delicious flavors courtesy of Bee King’s Raw Honey & Body Care in Auburn featuring products made with beeswax – lip balms, soap, body butter and more.
“This is amazing,” said Bee King’s owner, operator and co-founder Chris Miller. “I’m very proud of him and his team. He’s had this passion for a long time now and this is something this area needs.”
Right before he cut the ribbon on opening day, Manzanares expressed gratitude to all his employees and friends standing there with him – his team that’s helping to make Tacoma Fresh and its mission a success.
“Everyone holding this ribbon was a part of this dream. I could not have done this without the team I have,” he said. “Everyone standing up here is a testament that with hard work we can fight this battle together.”
The “battle” Manzanares referred to is the battle to fight obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other maladies by providing an easy, one-stop shop with nutritious foods rather than the junk foods typically found at convenience stores.
“Healthy living is not about starving yourself. It’s about providing the right kind of nourishment to your body,” he said. “People think diets are supposed to be restricting, but they’re not, so I came up with the idea to do a grab-and-go food store.”
Manzanares has also closed his North Point Bar and Grill in favor of establishing a business with a health conscious ethic, and if Tacoma Fresh proves to be a hit he will convert the other smoke shops he owns into healthy eating establishments.
Tom Morris has been one of Manzanareas’ longtime customers at North Point Bar & Grill, and he was the very first customer at Tacoma Fresh on opening day.
“I like Will a lot, he’s a smart businessman,” Morris said. “Pretty much everything he touches turns to gold. Just look at how much weight the guy’s lost.”
And Manzanares has lost a lot of weight – more than 40 pounds – and this is what kick-started this Puyallup tribal member in his new ventures to move away from selling tobacco products.
“Tribes need to be known as the innovators of healing and not just the profiteers of vices. What bothers me is when I go to career days at schools and the kids say ‘I want to own a smoke shop, a coffee shop and, now, a weed shop.’ I’m hoping that if I keep doing this, that future generations will say ‘I want to do something healthy and good for people.’”
Manzanares gives thanks to his friend Phylicia Pot for keeping him on track as he attempted to shed weight by following Dave Asprey’s renowned Bulletproof Diet.
“She is my great friend. She saw me get on this diet and I was struggling. I would have fallen off it, but she said she’d go on the diet with me. If she did not join the diet with me, I would have not been inspired to go on with it.”
From there, Manzanares began reading voraciously about foods and healthy living, including The Whole30 Program and The Paleo Diet. Then he attended a huge convenience store convention in Las Vegas and it changed his world.
“I sat there at a 400,000 square-foot convention saying 'there is nothing I can eat here.' There was junk food everywhere. Even things that are marketed as healthy, just read the labels and you’ll see it’s not healthy.” Thus, Tacoma Fresh was born.
Among the Tacoma Fresh employees is Mariah Aspuria. “A lot of people we’ve talked to about this whole concept love it,” she said. “It’s a great addition to the community. It’s hard for me to find something that’s actually organic and natural and doesn’t have additives so I love that every product in here can fit my diet.”
Manzanares said he’s always on the lookout for good people who are interested in his Tacoma Fresh concept and want to help make it thrive. “It’s going to take a community to help a community. It’s not just one guy closing down his smoke shop; it’s getting everyone involved.”
Tacoma Fresh is easy to get to, with easy access just off of Norpoint Way. Visit www.tacomafresh.com and (253) 952-7555.