The Mill House offers products for a healthy life

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

As spring approaches, Mary Ann Metzler makes a point to thoroughly stock her shelves with local honey for allergies and remedies to spur weight loss.

Metzler owns The Mill House, a natural foods store in Alabaster. Her sister runs a natural foods store in Atlanta and encouraged Metzler to give it a try after her daughter went off to college.

“It all started with one or two shelving units of supplements, and as people found out we were there they wanted more and more than I had,” Metzler said.

For more than five years she ran her health food business out of a corner of Central Alabama Office Supply, which she and her husband owned for 22 years. Six years ago, she branched out by converting a home into The Mill House.

The store now offers organic and all–natural foods, as well as vitamin supplements and homeopathic remedies.

Metzler said she makes it a point to let demand drive what products she carries. She said handfuls of people came by in the first few years requesting local honey. Metzer said honey made by local bees improves people’s immune systems and lowers their allergies to local pollens. She now carries honey from a couple in Montevallo and another in Wilsonville.

“That’s kind of been my niche,” Metzler said. “I listen to what the community needs and try to get it to them.”

Much of what the community has needed in the last few years includes gluten free products for what Metzler said is a growing number of people with celiac disease.

Gluten is a protein used in wheat, meaning it can be found in a variety of everyday ingredients. Metzler said that means a big demand for gluten free crackers, cereals, cookies and snacks. She also offers many types of brown rice breads.

Items such as organic peanut butter, flour, sodas, pastas and canned vegetables cover the back room of The Mill House.

Metzler said she carries a number of supplements such as essential oils, because many customers have read studies showing the benefits for brain and heart health.

“Most of the customers that come in here are already educated about the products they are looking for,” Metzler said.

To complete the health–focused business, Metzler also offers a variety of health screenings and community classes.