BY JUDY SHERIDAN
Justin Winton, owner and general manager of Bulk & Bunches on North FM Road 1187 in Aledo, said area residents — especially moms — have shown a lot of interest in his new natural foods store.
The small store, which had a grand opening a month ago, handles organic and natural groceries exclusively, shunning products with preservatives and artificial ingredients, Winton said.
Grass-fed Angus beef, raised without antibiotics or hormones by Aledo veterinarian Glenn Rogers, is a featured item.
More than 400 would-be customers have browsed the shelves of Bulk & Bunches since the specialty store’s soft opening two months ago, he said, many suggesting he stock their favorite hard-to-find items.
“The business has been well received,” he said, pulling out a clipboard lined with requests. “People tell me they’re glad I’m here.”
A 2001 Aledo High School graduate with a BBA and MBA from University of Texas — Årlington, Winton is living his dream of being an entrepreneur.
In business school he found he liked the environment of Whole Foods and gradually meshed his interest in business with an interest in organic foods.
His mindset was healthy to start with, Winton admitted, but the clincher was savoring a turkey sandwich and a bowl of soup served at an organic café in Denton.
“I felt like I could taste and trust the food I was eating,” he said. “It was full of flavor, and I could read and understand the ingredients.”
A convert to the organic lifestyle, Winton now believes he is reaping an abundance of energy — enough to more than shoulder his 80-hour work week.
“I like being healthy,” he said, “and I have a genuine interest in helping people get healthier.”
Bulk & Bunches, which should soon boast more visible signage near the Aledo Medicine Store, offers an assortment of food products: fresh, canned, boxed and frozen.
Heartland Grandma’s Perfect White Bread, priced at $4.99, is shelved alongside more than 40 different gluten-free foods — including 12-ounce packages of elbow pasta for $2.59.
A 10-ounce jar of Tree of Life strawberry jam costs $4.79; a five-ounce package of fresh spinach, $3.99; and a bag of Skinny Pop Popcorn, $3.49.
The locally grown Grassy Ridge Natural ground beef goes for $6 per pound.
“We are trying to offer things at a value price,” Winton said. “We can do it with our low overhead.”
Consumers can find the same brands at Bulk & Bunches that they do at Sprouts Farmers Market in Fort Worth, Winton said, but much closer to home.
“The Paleo Diet [a high protein, high-fruit and veggie diet] is very popular in Aledo,” he said. “Paleo bread and Larabars [a blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices] are very requested.”
October is non-GMO month at the store, he said, with products labeled non-GMO to raise awareness of the presence of genetically modified ingredients — which some regard as dangerous — in common food products.
“A lot of people want GMO labeling,” he said. “The anti-GMO movement is big in Aledo.”
New things are on the horizon, Winton said, some in conjunction with other local businesses.
In the next few weeks, Bulk & Bunches plans to partner with Jazbac Farm in Weatherford as a drop-off point for co-op boxes of fresh produce.
Winton also hopes to repeat a recent cooking class held in his store, where local chef Christi Flaherty, working with store products, created a delicious Southwest vegetable beef soup for others to sample.
He is also working on improving the customer experience.
“We’ll be offering more variety and more of the products they like,” he said. “I’m encouraging folks to come back in a second time.”
The name Bulk & Bunches is one the ambitious Winton plans to grow into.
“We’re working into that,” he said. “Over time we will have dried fruits and nuts, trail mixes in bulk. The bunches stems from having a variety of produce and fruit, like Central Market.”