CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Dave Weishaus was perhaps destined to manage Tunie’s Market in Coral Springs.
As a child, Weishaus grew up going to the store with his mother who used to shop for vitamins when the store was on the east side of the city.
He also had a childhood friend who would, years later, become the owner of the store, which opened in 1993.
Last year, some two decades later, Weishaus got a call from that friend, Taylor Hamilton, who wanted Weishaus to consider managing the store, which had fallen on hard times as it battled big-box grocers as well as Amazon for control over the local organic food market.
Weishaus, who had owned restaurants and at the time was building a tax and business consulting firm in Denver with his wife, Audra Walter, didn’t take long to make a decision.
“I knew this store really well. It’s one of the last of the great independent local grocery stores in the area,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of restoring it.”
So, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, Weishaus and Walter packed up their home, took their dog Moses and cat Herbie, and drove in an RV from Colorado to Coral Springs to take over the 12,000-square-foot store at 5651 Coral Ridge Drive.
There was a lot to do – and it had to be done quickly – if the store was going to survive the pandemic.
Tunie’s -- which at one point had three locations in South Florida -- needed new products, new emphasis on customer service, and new marketing to restore its reputation as the go-to local place for organic foods and natural supplements, the couple said.
But it also had to be more than that, Walter said.
“How do you make something successful and a community staple hum again? But in a different way, without losing your personality and the character of what Tunie’s has been?” she said.
After taking over the management, the couple first cleaned the store and added Covid-19 safety measures.
Then, the hard work began to attract new customers, they said.
They opened an organic pet food section to appeal to the growing demand for raw, all-natural, and nutritional pet food.
The store’s licensed nutrition counselor, Janet Cimorelli, was brought back to guide customers on healthy eating and find the right supplements among the more than 30,000 in selection.
Tunie’s also set up an online store and curbside pickup and started a kosher section.
Weishaus and Walter connected with local citrus and produce farms – including a gardening program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – to offer the freshest fruits and vegetables available in the area.
In the coming weeks, a new juice bar will open focused on made-to-order drinks with acai berry and other organic fruits.
And the store will launch online workshops and weekly webinars on wellness topics.
“There’s something awesome here that’s intangible. It’s a community staple that made a big impact on my husband’s life and his family’s life,” Walter said.
Walter, 33, is a digital marketing expert who studied at the University of Michigan, grew up in Flint, Mich., and had a great-grandmother who ran a store.
“There’s something in my blood that makes me want to do this,” she said.
Weishaus, 40, has built businesses for much of his adult life after graduating from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law.
He was raised in western Boca Raton and envisioned returning to the area.
The moment came when his friend asked him to take over Tunie’s.
“Dave and I, as a couple, have the perfect skill set to help reinvigorate this store,” Walter said.
For the couple, as they’ve worked on updating the store, they are also looking for the next products and services to offer their customers – whatever it takes to stay ahead of the competition, they said.
“You can’t just be one thing anymore,” Walter said. “We’re not just vitamins and groceries. We’re a multitude of small little businesses and stores in one.”
Visit Tunie’s here: tunies.com
(Tunie’s is an advertiser of TAPinto Coral Springs.)
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