Dana Thornsberry Hudson, born a military “brat” in El Paso grew up dreaming about becoming a shopkeeper. Her parents, Ann and Floyd Thornsberry, originally from the Corsicana area, moved her to Athens in 1975 while she was in high school. Her dad was a military recruiter and wanted to get his family out of the Dallas area due to the high crime rate.

Hudson grew up with her father's heart for volunteering and helped at a homeless ministry.

Sometimes people just need a little help Dana mentioned.

She also loved helping her grandmother, Allie Mae, in the garden where she developed a love of Horticulture. When Fincastle Nursery and Farm opened to the public and needed help, she worked a full-time job and filled her weekends at the farm. She returned to college in 1999 after a divorce and received a degree in horticulture.

“I had always dreamed of living in the mountains and being a storekeeper.”

She decided to pursue this and moved to Colorado. She continued her volunteer work at camps and other organizations which helped her experience many things on her bucket list. Although she loved her life and had every intention of staying there, plans changed. Her daughter decided to move back to Texas after graduation, and Dana decided to follow.

Granary Health Food, where she had worked prior to her move to Colorado was able to rehire her. The owner opened an additional location in Athens and offered the position to Dana. When he decided to sell, Dana's husband, Dale, reminded her of the shopkeeper dream. After developing a plan and an offer, she presented it to her boss, who quickly agreed, allowed her to owner finance and printed up the paperwork. She was able to purchase the business and renamed it Dana's Health Food Store.

There has been an awakening in recent years to the importance of taking care of the body through healthy nutrition. The body is an incredibly complex system that is designed to repair itself when given the proper tools. Unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of life, for many it is easier to eat some empty calories than it is to prepare nutritious options. America's bottom line is showing it with health issues and auto-immune disorders on the rise.

One of the things that people are doing to counterbalance the many toxins we face daily is support their bodies through supplements. Dana's strong horticulture background and experience in the health food industry gives her customers an edge in finding what they need to help improve their health.

'It's not about curing what's wrong, it's about getting to a better place with their health so they can live a better quality of life,” she said.

Dana went through major health issues over the past few years after she was given a controversial antibiotic. When she started losing her ability to walk, she knew something was seriously wrong. It wasn't until her husband took the same medication that she started researching it. The side effects listed and timeline helped her put two and two together. Hudson credits her Naturopath and nutritional supplements as major contibuting factors toward her recovery. She has been able to restore her health to a great extent and continues to improve.

“If I don't get any better than I am right now, I am living a much better quality of life than I was three years ago, when I was laying on that couch and couldn't get up,” she said.

Hudson offers gluten-free items, meat, alternative dairy options, healthy snacks and specialty flours such as almond and cassava. Nutritional supplements, skin care, and cleaning products are also available.

One unique offering is a screening for vitamin deficiencies and toxins on the cellular level. Although it is not meant to replace the instructions or tests your doctors provide, several people have had blood work done that confirmed the results.

Dana's has a coffee shop that features organic coffee whenever possible. Eventually she would like to add a juice bar along with some top secret plans she wasn't ready to share.

Quality, variety and expertise are not things you can find everywhere, and not all supplements are created equal. Do your research and take advantage of our local businesses.

When you are in a small town, it can be difficult to find less popular supplements and specialty items. Dana's health food store has a wide variety of hard to find items.

In rural areas shoppers are pushed toward online purchases, but some research has shown that not all supplements are created equal.

“Some of my customers have come in and said, 'why do I feel so much better when I take your supplement over the one I got somewhere else,'” she said. The quality and potency of the product are key. Some manufacturers create a line for individuals and another is made less expensive or in lower quantities for mass retailers.

This has become an issue for many small business owners who already suffer from competition with the larger retailers. Large businesses and corporations can buy in such massive quantities that they get hugely discounted wholesale rates, creating lower prices for consumers in some cases. Small mom and pop shops do not have this luxury, so when customers compare pricing between the two it is “apples and oranges”.

When you go into a small business and shop locally, you are investing in your community. Dana purchases locally when possible. Some of these products are from the Athens Farmers Market vendors such as Milk & Honey, and local pasture-fed beef producer Taylor Cattle Company (JT2).

Dana helps customers find what they are looking for to give their bodies what it needs to perform its best. Yet another perk of shopping local is the time and expertise of the business owner. She is also a certified nutrition counselor.

Having a business like Dana's Natural Health Market is imperative for people with health issues and special diets. Sometimes you can't wait for your order to come in the mail. This is a real danger as mass retailers and online sales take many consumers away from local business. When a lack of business forces local shops to shut the doors, where do you go when you need it now? Another disadvantage is when large companies get the monopoly they can raise their prices.

With such a wonderful resource available to our community, please take a moment to stop in and visit with Dana.

Dana's Natural Health Market is located at 505 S. Palestine, Ste. 105.

You can also reach them at 903-675-2700 or through their Facebook page.

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