GORHAM—An organic food store—Las Gemelas Foods for Life—has opened at 115 Main Street in Gorham, underneath the SAALT Pub.
The store is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A grand opening celebration is planned for Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with giveaways such as bumper stickers, fresh popcorn, and possibly samples of the store's fresh-made smoothies.
The store offers both grocery and lunch items such as fresh organic produce—local when possible, organic gluten-free and sprouted wheat wraps, organic salads, organic smoothies, a fresh pressed juice of the day, bulk food, personal care and cleaning products. They expect to add soups to their lunch menu when the weather cools.
The store is the brainchild of two friends: Natalie Dube and Andrea Russell, both 25, both of Berlin, who found themselves traveling miles to find the kind of organic foods they favor.
"We were inspired to start a health food store in the area because there is really nothing like it around," said Russell, in a recent press release about the store. "Some people travel 50 minutes out of town, just to buy the things they love. When it comes to what we think of as healthy, nutritious, and local foods, it's slim pickings."
They are intent on promoting healthy foods and intend to keep prices reasonable.
They also hope to offer classes, such as how to grow sprouts, how to make your own kombucha (an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea, according to Wikipedia), how to eat well on a tight budget.
"Our focus is on eating a sound diet," said Russell.
The two come to the business from different backgrounds. Dube grew up on an organic farm and has always been interested in the subject. She majored in art for two years in college, but gave it up as impractical. She has worked at a number of food preparation jobs including stints at the Moonbeam Cafe, IGA, and Souper Sub, where she and Russell worked together. Dube's husband, Michael, was a classmate of Russell's at Groveton High School.
Russell graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a double major in Spanish and International Relations. Her husband is employed at the Woodlands Credit Union, so the couple continues to live in the Berlin/Gorham area, and Russell found herself working at food related jobs such as her employment at Souper Sub, working with Dube.
Evidently a lot of the customers at Souper Sub thought the two were twins, hence the name for their store, Las Gamelas, which means "twins" in Spanish, Russell explains.
A year or so ago, the two started doing a lot of reading about nutrition and the organic food store concept began to take shape.
"We want to help people become more aware, to break the (organic) stereotype. We want people to understand that it's real food," Dube said, "and to keep it as affordable as possible."
In the two weeks the store has been open, they find that people shop for a variety of things, from foods to lunch wraps, salads and smoothies, to specialty drinks, to salad dressings, to organic flours and nuts, all available in the shop, located where the SAALT pub was before it moved upstairs in the same building. The SAALT bar is still in its original location, however, available for lunch customers who want to sit down and eat in. The store does not offer any alcoholic products.