There are a lot of people reading this who will go "are you kidding me?" when I tell you that this 'destination' is a grocery store. True confession: I love the grocery store. I love going to the store. I love walking up and down the aisles and I could spend hours -- no, that's not an exaggeration -- literally, hours, in a grocery store. I mean, the hour time allotment does not apply to ALL stores, but it does apply to this one.
Ellwood Thompson's is located in Richmond, Virginia, at the entrance to Cary Town, a quaint shopping and restaurant area in the state's capitol. When I was in Richmond last month for the Teen Stylin' Fashion Show, I went to the store 3 times in 48 hours - Friday morning after a yoga class and coffee, then again Friday afternoon (more on that below) and then one more time before I headed home on Saturday.
I'm a University of Richmond alum, but while in school, the notion of 'healthy food' wasn't really in my vernacular. A four-year collegiate athlete, I ate most of my meals at the Dining Hall and topped off each dinner with a frozen yogurt. At the time, I was swimming two practices a day and doing weight training/dry land (well, kind of, but that's a different post). As I got older and had a better understanding of the correlation of food and fitness, I became more interested in healthful eating and living a healthy lifestyle. So, needless to say, I never much then cared for grocery stores one way or the other.
But this one is different. While similar to a Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompson's has a greater focus on locally sourced foods and products, including baked goods and body lotions, as well as brand name organics. For me, the most interesting was the "Vegan Breakfast Bar" and the "Raw Food Bar." The Raw Foods weren't simply uncooked foods, but held items such as massaged kale salad and live broccoli salad. The grab-and-go cases had tuna salad and turkey sandwiches, but also included pre-made vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options as well. Same goes for the bakery. Vegan, gluten free cupcakes sat right next to the "regular" cupcakes. And there were options! Lots of options, for everyone. Whatever your food preference or food allergy might be, there was something more than one option for you at Ellwood Thompson's. Side note, I had no idea that Richmond was voted Outside Magazine's Best Town 2012 -- the community is really active and vibrant, which is why a specialty market can thrive in the community. There's definitely the demand.
If you're in Richmond and you're a "grocery store enthusiast" like yours truly, it's worth a visit. And make sure you pick up Netties Naturally Super snack. They are individually wrapped granola bars and they are amazing. The reason we went back on Friday afternoon was to sample these lovely snacks... and I'm glad we did! Since they are a local product, and not sold in Washington, DC, I went back on Saturday to pick up some more. I think they may have lasted the weekend, but I'm not 100% sure that between Doug and I, they weren't eaten up before the 8:30 Sunday Night Football game.