Adam Goettelman admits he never intended to own a health food store, but sometimes life takes you in unexpected directions.
With a background in organic vegetable farming, Goettelman had already built
a relationship with Fred Wittig, the former owner of Healthy Way Market in Sturgeon Bay, which was a wholesale customer of Goettelman’s.
In the early 2010s, both Goettelman and Wittig experienced changes in their personal lives and were looking for something new. Wittig was ready to move onto the next chapter, but Goettelman was ready to tackle his next adventure. You can probably guess what happened next.
“I worked at the store for two or three weeks to see if I liked it,” Goettelman says.
It turns out he did, and in April 2014, he became the new owner of Healthy Way Market, one of only three locally owned grocery stores in Door County. Goettelman says the store has solid roots in the community as well as a positive reputation.
Since taking the reins, Goettelman has enjoyed breathing some new life into the market by leaning on his connections from his farming days. With a passion for clean agriculture, local economics and healthy products, Goettelman personally vets every item the market carries — from the food to the vitamins and supplements.
“The brands that we carry have to be doing some good work,” he says. “That means clean ingredients and strong missions behind them.”
Like any business, Goettelman says the store has experienced some ups and downs in the decades since it’s been open. But he’s ultimately been impressed with the demand and the community support.
That support is paying off now since the store is expanding — the second time since Goettelman took over five years ago. When he purchased the store, it was only about 1,000 square feet. Three years ago, he moved to a 3,000-square-foot location on South Third Avenue. Now, the market is moving about a block down the street, where it will have 8,000 square feet and a parking lot.
“This is a way for us to step up and offer more to a community that has been doing a great job supporting us,” Goettelman says of the new store, which will open early this year.
With the impending move, it might sound like Goettelman has enough on his plate, but he has more goals in mind. In the new space, he hopes to expand the kitchen to build upon its already thriving grab-and-go food business with meal prep kits.
“Everybody is really into these premade meal kits right now, but they’re being shipped from states away and there’s nothing really local about it,” Goettelman says. “We want to get into that convenience factor but with more local ingredients.”
Longer term, he’d also love to put a vegetable garden on the premises and incorporate more educational elements, like cooking and gardening classes. “We’re focusing on homesteading — really getting people involved and connected back to the simple things,” he says.
While owning a store might not have been on Goettelman’s radar 10 years ago, he’s proof that sometimes it’s the unexpected paths that lead to the greatest outcomes.
“In hindsight,” he says, “it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”