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When Sunnyside resident Claire Carsen opened Nourish NYC last fall, she wanted it to be more than the average health food store.
She wanted it to cater to health nuts and those who have never set foot in such a place and offer more than just supplements or pills.
In the months since its October 2007 opening, the store has exceeded her expectations.
Nourish NYC, at 43-15 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, offers everything one might need to make his or her life healthier, more natural and brighter. Carsen's items range from health food store staples like vitamins and supplements to eco-friendly cleaning supplies, pet food, baby care products, gluten-free breads and organic pastas.
There's even a smoothie bar and garden in the back to enjoy it all.
"With most health food stores, people don't know what to do when they come inside," said Carsen.
At Nourish NYC, Carsen's wants to make the atmosphere inviting and information available. For those who have never been to a health food store, it is "a way for them to see the world beyond the supermarket."
Since the store opened, business has flourished, she said. When customers come in, they chat with Carsen, ask advice and recommend products.
One customer suggested she carry gluten-free wraps, the kind found at Whole Foods. Carsen told the customer she would have them in stock the next week. Many products Carsen carries came from customer recommendations, she said.
"This is my community. I want to learn from them," said Carsen, who moved to the Sunnyside area 15 years ago.
Often, Carsen's customers will come in and describe their ailments, such as pregnancy, conditions caused by pregnancy or losing weight. A common one is stress.
Instead of recommending a pill, such as B-Complex, which reportedly relieves stress, Carsen said she tries to understand why someone is stressed and might suggest holistic approaches, like a change in diet or aromatherapy.
"I can give them a pill, but I don't want to," she said.
Nourish NYC customers can also get expert insight at one of the store's monthly evening talks, where a health professional leads an hour-long discussion with customers.
Recent topics included the pros and cons of consuming dairy products, aromatherapy benefits and sugar cravings.
Even if customers are not interested in health food, they can order organic coffee or a fruit smoothie from the bar and enjoy it in the serene garden behind the store.
"I love the idea of eating well and living well and taking care of yourself," she said. "Everything out there in nature is there for us. Somewhere along the line people lost touch with that, and now they're starting to come back to that."
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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