by Aaron Smith
Urbana Daily Citizen
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly nine years ago, Laurie Shafer of Urbana began following a path that led to Urbana's newest business.
"I first started getting interested in natural foods and natural supplements for my personal health concerns," said Shafer, who used to own an herb store in West Liberty years ago. "That developed into a passion. When I started learning, I wanted to help other people learn about their health."
Shafer is now the manager at Au Natural, 113 S. Main St., scheduled to open for business later this week. The store is part of a business that is franchising, joining an establishment that his been in Bellefontaine for eight years.
"The business in Bellefontaine has been very good," Shafer said. "I'm excited to bring the store to Urbana. We've come to Urbana to teach people to take responsibility for their health."
Au Natural is owned by three partners including Stacy Small, Julie Kinzie and Sally Brooks. Shafer said she wanted to bring the business to her hometown.
"Urbana was always a goal," said Shafer, who used to manage the business in Piqua before moving it to Urbana. "I will be bringing in clients from Piqua and surrounding areas to the store and I'm excited for the opportunity."
Shafer said Urbana's growth added to the desire to bring Au Natural to the city.
"I'm excited for out-of-town customers to come to Urbana," she said. "There is a lot to do here and so many nice shops and businesses. I want to help out the fellow business people here in Urbana."
Au Natural is more than just a healthy food store, according to Shafer, who is working toward becoming a certified naturopathic doctor. The business will feature an iridologist who will also provide massage therapy.
Shafer said Beth Sluetz, of St. Paris, will be at the store to practice iridology, which is the study of the eyes and how they can point to trouble spots in the rest of the body.
"(Iridology) is a very accurate form of diagnosis," Shafer said. "It's really remarkable how accurate (Sluetz) can be. It looks at where trouble spots are coming from and not just at symptoms."
According to Shafer, Sluetz will be available for massage therapy by
Education drives Shafer
Shafer said learning about health food and natural products has lessened the symptoms of her multiple sclerosis during the last nine years and said teaching people about healthy living his her driving force.
"Eight years ago, I walked away from medical doctors," Shafer said. "Naturopathic doctors say there is no disease without a cure. I have learned a lot over the years and I hardly feel the effects of MS now because I have been taking care of myself."
According to Shafer, disease is usually caused by two things: lack of nutrition and an overload of toxins.
"You can reverse all of that with proper vitamins and supplements," Shafer said. "That's what we have here at the store. My goal is to educate people and teach them how to be healthy. Healthy people are happy people."
Urbana, which also is home to The Healthy Junkfood Store, is a good target for a second health store, Shafer said.
"This city can support several flower shops, so I know it can support two health food stores," Shafer said. "I look forward to working with them because my goal is educating people here and getting people on the right path."
Shafer said educating the public will fuel a wide interest in healthy food and natural products, thus providing a need for both stores.
In addition to health food, Au Natural provides essential oils, flower remedies, homeopathic medicine, herbal teas and supplements, vitamins and minerals, weight loss and weight gain products and natural beauty aids.
The store is also home to health books and other literature.
"We're here to cover it all," Shafer said. "I'm excited to be here."
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