FOR PART ONE OF THIS INTERVIEW CLICK HERE.
What is it like having the only GF store in LA?
It’s kind of like being a food Santa Claus. Sure you can find some of our items in other markets – we have to carry the national top sellers. But there are those special items people have never experienced before. We all get tired of the same old food day in and day out. And we’re always there to help people who are having a gluten free guest for dinner or a relative in for a weekend who has dietary needs the host/hostess has never dealt with before. That’s just good retail fun.
How can those of us who don’t live in LA benefit from your store?
Our business plan is for expansion to more stores, build the Pam MacD’s brand and then venture into online shopping. Let’s hope the plan becomes reality. I think it’s a concept whose time has certainly come.
I get a lot of people contacting me about the high prices of gluten-free items. It can be pretty pricey being gluten-free. What’s your advice for this?
This is a hard one to answer as GF is in the “natural food” category in the food distribution world, which means higher prices to begin with. Add on the gluten free aspect and that makes it a “specialty food” item in an already expensive category. It’s Pam MacD’s business plan to open more of our markets would allow us better buying power so we can bring down our costs and pass it on to our customers. For families that are gluten free I would have to say cost cutting would be buying in bulk and making your own GF from scratch as the most economical way of gluten free living, but it’s not a one size fits all solution. And most people don’t have the time to work, raise families AND cook from scratch.
What are some of your favorite GF products and why?
I go with Canyon Bakehouse breads, especially their multi grain as it contains quinoa. And pretty much any GF item with quinoa is a winner as it gives us “GFers” more nutritional bang for the buck. I unabashedly drool over Against the Grain baguettes – especially the rosemary ones. One of my local favorites is Almond Glory – when I throw a Sunday brunch, you can’t beat their waffle mix. Plus they use almond flour, which again is a nutritional bang for your buck. I think Arnel’s pie crusts are the best gf, or non gf for that matter, for those who make their own pies. Glutenfreeda has a really tasty microwaveable pizza wrap – add a small salad and it’s a great work day lunch. God bless Conte’s for helping me with my Italian food cravings! XO cake mixes are deservedly on the rise in terms of our sales. Another thing that is becoming more prevalent in GF food is that more and more products are “enriched” which again helps us with nutritional values – King Arthur and other brands are making good inroads on that score. I’m really excited about a new line of GF oats from Gluten Free Prairie – fresh out of Montana with an extra kick of protein for us oatmeal lovers!
What does your store do to promote celiac and gluten understanding and education?
I am fortunate to be asked on occasion to give talks about “what is gluten”, which I am happy to do. But I never do one of these speaking engagements without spending several minutes to help create celiac awareness. That’s ingrained. The banners in our windows are about Celiac Disease and of course we lend our support to Elaine Monarch and the CDF. Our community center always has celiac information along with information regarding autism groups and others who are assisted with a gluten free lifestyle.
What’s the thing you find is most misunderstood about celiac disease?
Celiac disease is not to be taken lightly – not by any stretch of the imagination. If you have active celiac, you must adhere to the diet. If not, it will only destroy your health in the long run. The other is that a gluten free diet will make you thin. It will help make you thin because you’re not ordering the midnight pizza for delivery or buying fast/junk food. BUT a carb is a carb is a carb! A cookie is a cookie, cake is cake, pie is pie. Respect the carb, I say. All joking aside, most people that come into Pam MacD’s really don’t have a weight issue and I think that is because they have had health issues stemming from food or are just generally more aware of what they put into their bodies – AND HOW MUCH OF IT!
Pleasurable points of having this amazing store of yours?
I get an employee’s discount on my GF food? Honestly, it’s a good start at helping a really under served segment of our population who heretofore have been “second class citizens”. It’s a good way to let people know they are not alone in a pretty frightening food environment. Selfishly, I get to put something in my personal karma bank.
Anything else you want to share, Pam?
There is life after wheat!!
Miranda Jade Turbin
From our home to yours, Tina Turbin.