The Dumases bought the Manistee business in the summer of 2004. Laid off in 2003 from a job in purchasing at Custom Packaging Systems, Joe found himself sitting in the office of Deb Nale, a career counsellor at the local Michigan Works! office. She presented him with a list of options, including buying a business. Deb and her husband John owned Port City Organics at the time and mentioned that they were considering selling. Joe took this information home to his soon-to-be-wife. “We talked about it at length,” Lori says. “We finally said, ‘Let’s go for it!’” It was a logical step for the couple, who certainly know a thing or two about the products lining their shelves; Lori has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years and is Certified Natural Health Practitioner, and Joe’s father lived a promoted a healthy lifestyle for the last 40 years of his life.Even so, Joe admits that he wasn’t always a believer. “At first I though the whole thing was crazy,” he says. “I told him, ‘Dad, the FDA & the AMA are good, pharmaceuticals are good, they wouldn’t create, market, and promote harmful products!’” Years later he met Lori, who never got the chance to meet Joe’s father before he passed away. Lori had an intense interest in natural and holistic healing, and Joe began to notice many of the things she was talking about were the same things his father had mentioned. “It was uncanny,” he says. “I started to think maybe there was something to this.”The turning point came when Lori sought help from the Born Clinic in Grand Rapids for her rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to visiting the clinic, she was undergoing weekly injections of the drug Enbrel® to manage her symptoms. Through healthy eating and the use of natural anti-inflammatories, she managed to get down to an injection once every three weeks. But she didn’t want a life relying on pharmaceuticals, she wanted a cure. The doctors at the Born Clinic promised just that.
Joe was a skeptic. On their first visit to the clinic, he grilled the doctor about the treatment. “I was kind of obnoxious,” he laughs. He was assured that a new peptide therapy could completely alleviate his wife’s pain, even though he had a hard time believing that such a chronic condition could be treated without drugs.
Lori underwent four months of peptide therapy treatments before her symptoms were eliminated. At that point, she decided to stop taking the peptide injections and see how long it would take before the arthritis returned. “It’s been over a year since my last shot,” she beams. That revelation is just one of the many driving forces that make the Dumases love and truly believe in what they do. It’s also part of what makes them so eager to share their lifestyle and to answer any questions that come their way. Says Lori, “One of the most rewarding aspects of owning the business is educating the public.”
From the first day that they purchased the store, the Dumases worked to expand their merchandise and services. They revamped the window displays, put more products on the shelves, and expanded options and choices in every category.
Their expansion took a giant step in early 2011 when they purchased a new, larger building, located at the corner of First Street and Division Street. The move also brought a name change, adding the words “Real Food Market &Wellness Center” to their moniker. Why “real” food? Explains Joe, “That’s what we have in our store. No chemicals, no fillers, nothing processed or artificial. Just real, wholesome food.” The store is a very locally-minded business, offering a wide variety of Michigan-made products including merchandise from Cream Cup Dairy, Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery, Stone House Bread, Halpin’s Land of Goshen Farms, Higher Grounds Trading Company, Food for Thought, and Wee Bee Jammin’, just to name a few.
They have real food for everyone in the family, even the four-legged members. As we switch gears to the topic of pet food, the Dumases lament about the fillers, allergens, and other sub-standard ingredients that go into most pet food. “People tell us about the behavioral changes in their kids when they take things like artificial colors and dyes out of their diets. It’s the same with pets,” says Joe. “People come in and say that their dog is itching a lot or is really hyperactive, and my first question is, ‘what are you feeding it?’ It’s so important to read the labels, just like we do with our own food. They need a good protein source”
The new location also allowed space for the addition of beer and wine to their selections. They sell predominantly Michigan-made beers, including beverages from Short’s Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery, and Arbor Brewing Company. The indecisive crowd will be happy to learn that it’s currently the only place in Manistee where you can mix-and-match a cold six pack.
In addition to a larger retail area, the new building, which had originally been a pharmacy and doctor’s offices, gave them the perfect setup for opening a full-scale Wellness Center. Walking down the hallway in the Wellness Center and reading the names on the office doors, it becomes clear that Port City Organics is about more than just a healthy diet; in additional to Lori’s Natural Health Practitioner consultation services, they also host Medical Massage Therapy, Clinical Hypnotherapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) training, Aromatherapy, a Holistic Health Practitioner, and Life Coach Services. The space is even home to weekly meditation sessions.
With only one vacant office left in the Wellness Center, the Dumases have almost completely filled their new space. Port City Organics is more than just a health food store; it’s a vast array of resources that give their customers all the tools they need to live a healthy lifestyle.
Port City Organics Real Food Market & Wellness Center
328 First Street
Manistee, MI 49660
Port City Organics on Facebook
Monday – Saturday 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM