Natural Frontier Market Opens Its Doors
At Former Beacon Supermarket Site
By Susie Davidson
BROOKLINE - On August 6, residents of the Park Drive area had reason to celebrate as the Natural Frontier Market opened at 1028 Beacon Street.
The 8000 square feet store, which features holistic and organic foods, natural body care and environmentally friendly household products, took over the space long occupied by the Beacon Supermarket. It had been vacant for nearly a year and a half.
The transition was not without difficulties, explains owner Shohel Hossain. "The building needed a lot of work," recalls the Bangladeshi native, who purchased the site back in November 2000. The required permit was slow in coming, and both the plumbing and electrical systems needed replacement. "It just wasn't ready for retail," he says. "We put in custom-made wooden food shelves and skylights, and we needed more contractors than were available."
Once in operation, further setbacks ensued. The power outage of August 10 and 11 resulted in substantial frozen food and business loss which, Hossain laments, will probably not be covered.
Nonetheless, the 33 year old entrepreneur is enthused about bringing his brand of victuals and personalized service to the people of Brookline. "We want to offer the best food we can," he states. "This is a small but enlightened town, and we strive to serve everyone individually to their satisfaction." To this end, he stresses that comments and suggestions are encouraged.
Why did he choose to come to Brookline?
"There are prominent schools and hospitals nearby," he responds, "and well educated people who know about good food, and who want to have high quality service as well. In my opinion, there hasn't been a whole lot of that going on here. There is natural food, but we have organic produce and a salad and hot foods bar."
He also admires the diversity of the town, and feels he reflects this focus as well. "In our management and staff, there are those of Asian, Hispanic, Russian Jewish and other origins, as well as Boston locals, high school and college kids."
Hossain, who is general manager of the Natural Frontier Market Company, co-owns two other stores, on 81st and on 22nd Streets in New York City. "A lot of people from Brookline would come into the 81st Street store, which is on the Upper East Side," he explains, "or they would have relatives here."
So, following a Northeast Co-op trade show in Fitchburg last March, Hossain and his partner Sonam Lama stopped in Brookline and liked what they saw. When a realtor located the property in the summer, they moved to secure it.
Hossain's interest in and work within the natural foods field is longstanding. "In Bangladesh," he notes, "all our food was whole. There were no preservatives or chemicals. People ate whole grains, brown rice, lots of vegetables and fruits. We ate whole wheat chapati and roti breads, mangoes, pineapples, citrus fruits, tomatoes. Further, Aryuvedic medicine, based on herbs, was the norm. Microwaves? He shuns them anyway.
"It's funny," re remarks. "Where I came from, some people were dying for lack of food. Yet here, where it is so plentiful, people are also dying from the weak, processed food, and eating too much of it to boot."
With a science degree from Dhaka City College, Hossain read widely on holistic health and natural foods, and in 1999, decided to immigrate to the U.S. He worked at several health food stores in NYC; as the manager of one, Good Earth, he undertook a major expansion and design project. He then moved on to the Natural Frontier Market on 16th Street (which was sold prior to the Brookline acquisition), and expanded to the other two Manhattan locales.
"Brookline is a wonderful place," he enthuses. "I personally would like to settle here." And, despite working 60-70 hours per week, he hopes to open more stores in the area.
"Once people discover the health and taste benefits of truly natural foods, they will realize they're doing the best they can for themselves."