Nature’s Health closes after almost 30 years



Nearly 27 years ago, Doris Ann McNamee first opened Nature’s Health, introducing the area to such medicinal herbs as Ashwagandha and Goldenseal tincture. She held a big sale last month to mark her exit into retirement.

As shelves were being taken down at her store recently, McNamee talked about how she’s been really busy, packing remaining health books, sublingual supplements, vitamins, and minerals.

After so many years of providing a resource for people seeking alternative health methods, the long-time businesswoman is retiring to enjoy the rest of her life on her 300-acre farm.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said.

While the pandemic has brought difficulties, she explained the most difficult hurdle in her business these days is locating her familiar herbal products, a problem she hasn’t been able to yet put a finger on. She does know, however, that people’s preferences for shopping online have helped contribute to her closing out Nature’s Health.

She’s developed a faithful customer base, far and wide, so McNamee said her departure from the business community has been really difficult for many of her faithful customers. She first began selling health products decades ago with her late parents, Margaret and Pete Brent, who were also a part of the local business communities for years.

Nature’s Health owner reminisced about how her father, who she says was ahead of his time, studying early on natural supplements, then slowly introducing Shelbyville to alternative health products at this Union Street grocery store in the early 1990s. Her dad was particularly fond of the guide book “Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine,” written by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, which remains on the market with several editions printed.

The family, she said, became early proponents here of aloe vera products, stating the whole food plant gels and juices contains vital enzymes and amino acids. In hindsight, McNamee talked about other products that have been mainstays of her company.

It’s a business she never fathomed for herself. in fact, she and her husband, Robert, now deceased, ran after the grocery store an indoor market with vendors. One vendor asked her to sell on consignment some of his health products.

“I knew absolutely nothing about health food products and didn’t want to know. I had to learn. I couldn’t even pronounce echinacea. The more I read, the more interested I got.”

Seeing this as a potentially profitable business for his only child, her dad pushed her into the business. In hindsight, she believes it was actually something she was meant to do with her life.

“No, the Good Lord knew where I belonged. I give all the glory to Him.”

She would eventually open Nature’s Health, which she operated on Union Street for 10 years, before moving to her present location of 103 Northside Park off Highway 231-North. She said she’s been blessed to work with long-time friends, Rosemary Smith and Nancy Oldfield, who had been an employee at her parent’s store and was a life-long friend.

It was those friends who would comfort her when her beloved parents passed away and then again, when her husband, Bob, died. McNamee would sustain greater shock a few years ago at the passing of her youngest, J.P. McNamee.

Like any life-long friend, she in turn held Nancy’s hand when her beloved husband, Charles, died. She’s even encouraged her as she’s dealt with some recent health issues, which caused her to stop working at the store.

We were more like sisters,” said Oldfield, whose children helped pack up remaining health supplements.

Oldfield said with a laugh that she couldn’t even pronounce some of the names of herbal supplements when she first started working at Nature’s Health. She’s used a few herbs and vitamins herself over the years, but what she witnessed as an employee, she said, is what strength and sustainability her friend of over 50 years has garnered, despite some of the large “mountains” she’s had to climb.

There have been tears, they shared. McNamee has continued to provide customers, as a result, herbal products without a glitch.

While she’s never given shoppers any medical advice, McNamee said she’s pretty in tune now to the needs of her faithful customers. Many have freely shared their symptoms, but she’s only told them, by example and what herbs have been proven by the industry, to work for arthritis, high blood pressure or other ailments.

Practicing what she’s advised over the years, McNamee said she follows a good food-based vitamin and mineral regiment. Still a picture of health in her golden years, she said she’s thankful not to have experienced COVID-19; she points to a myriad of immune support products which she believes have sustained her senior health.

Likely the best advice her father gave her, she said, was when he told her to always keep her shelves stocked with a varied price range of items. She does not apologize that some of her supplements, like the coenzyme Ubiquinol, have carried a higher price tag.

“If someone was just looking for cheap vitamins, this shop was likely not suited for them.”

If she has any regrets, it’s that there’s no one willing to fill her shoes at Nature’s Health. She’s pointing her customers toward comparable health food shops, though most are several miles away from Shelbyville.

She said sadly, many small nutritional shop owners have already closed their doors ahead of her and some may be on their way soon. The Achilles heel of her industry, she explained, is constant regulations being put forth by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) against the natural health community.

“But we’re still here,” the senior said, peering over her stylist red glasses.

McNamee has a daughter, Margaret Denny, who lives in Louisiana. While she enjoys traveling, the retiree said, for now, the country’s life is looking real good. Perhaps she will sleep in a few mornings, especially that one of Nancy’s sons, Tim, has remodeled her home.

“I’ve never had time to grow herbs,” she admitted with a sigh.

McNamee said leaving Nature’s Health behind is true “well with her soul.” The retiree believes people have their own callings in life; she believes God made a way for her the last 20 plus years through medicinal vitamins and herbs.

“Everything on earth, He put here for medicinal purposes.”

Source: Time Gazette


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