Casie Dussia weighs products in the corner of R.W. Eats. The red machine (far right) grinds ingredients to make all natural peanut butter for customers.

New Otsego food store offers sports nutrition

By: 
Ryan Shek, Intern

New Hope Health, Country Way Natural Foods and now R.W. Eats—the names of Allegan Street health and wellness stores keep changing.

R.W. Eats, the latest health and wellness store to crop up in Otsego, sells sports nutrition in addition to organic, gluten-free and vegan foods and opened Friday, June 20, at 106 W. Allegan St., Otsego.

Bailey Buss, the former owner of the previous health business, Country Way Natural Foods, said the changes in name and ownership has been somewhat confusing to the Otsego community.

“I think (the change) confuses people a little bit, but more than anything, it’s funny,” Buss said. “Otsego (people) know the health food store is the store. They know it’s there.”

They just don’t always know the name and, according to Buss, that doesn’t make the corner of Farmer and West Allegan Street bad for business. The spot is nestled between four area gyms ripe with health conscious consumers.

The changes, Buss said, can be attributed to the evolving goals and simple fatigue of the former owners.

Casie Dussia, the woman who bought out Country Way Natural Foods alongside her husband John in March, moved the health business to the neighboring building before reopening as R.W. Eats.

The two spent the last few months renovating the property, knocking out walls, putting up shelves and stocking the store with products aimed not only at improving holistic health, but also offering sports training.

“We’re building endurance through nutrition,” Dussia said. “Some people come in on weight loss (regimens), others for strength training or endurance—you’ve got to research what you buy and sell, and we want to educate our customers.”

According to Dussia, the quality of products and their prices are the keys to running a successful wellness store, testing supplements, eating foods and selling what works for them.

Dussia expects to draw business from the local fitness community, a familiar demographic considering the organization Dussia founded in 2010: Run With Endur­ance. The organization offers walking groups, running opportunities, fitness education and has nearly 200 local members.

 “R.W. Eats” derives its name from that group’s initials.
According to Dussia, she and her family would like to further motivate the Otsego community on its way to live a healthier lifestyle by offering affordable, nutritional food options as well as free information in the form of a “community connections corner.”

“We’ll provide in-store health advice, clinics and classes,” Dussia said. “Anything health and wellness.”

As part of the original building purchase, former owners of Country Way Natural Foods, Jason and Bailey Buss, retained ownership over the corner building. According to Bailey Buss, it will be renovated and converted into a coffee shop, River House Coffee.

“We’ll have your regular stuff—soups, salads, sandwiches; kind of grab your lunch and go,” Buss said. “But we’ll also have a couple of vegan options and gluten-free items, a healthier spin on the coffee side (of things).”

Buss hopes to open the coffee shop within the next few months and thinks the building is an ideal spot.

“There’s so many windows and a very high ceiling; it’s just a very pretty building,” Buss said. “If (anybody) happens to walk into the coffee shop looking for the health store, I’ll just point them right next door.”

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