Healthy, local grocery welcomes new owners

By: 
Dwight Harriman

The new owners of Food Works, located at 412 E. Park St. in Livingston, want their store to reflect a small-town grocery store feel.

Don DeSmet and his wife, Lynette Larson-DeSmet took over the store in October.

Asked to describe their store, they said “health food store” is too pigeonholed. It’s better described as a natural food store, they said, but with an emphasis on a small-town grocery atmosphere and products — the kind of store where your mother would shop for making home-cooked meals.

And indeed, the store has that feel, with products running the gamut from fresh produce like fruits — including three variety of apples from a Rollins, Montana orchard — to vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy, as well as other items like food supplements you would find at a natural food store.

Lynette said she likes the store’s name because it fits their mission of “making your food work for you.”

Small-town roots

Like their store, the DeSmets have their roots in small towns. Lynette grew up in Deer Lodge. Don’s parents owned a grocery story in a small town in Minnesota, which Don worked in. He later spent a good part of his adult life in South Dakota, where he has some family.

They last came here from Hawaii, where Lynette was a general manager for a food cooperative, and Don had a UPS store franchise as well as worked as operations manager for the food co-op.

But the pull of family in the area and the business they loved — smalltown grocery stores — tugged at them.

When they discovered Food Works was for sale, they headed to Montana.

“You just keep getting reminded your roots of (a) small town is where you’re happiest,” Lynette said.

Focus on local

The DeSmets try to purchase food that is organic and when it makes sense. The bottom line is their products must at least be all-natural and minimally processed.

They buy local as much as possible and radiate outward from there, concentrating on Montana.

“We make a concerted effort to go out and find those small guys,” Lynette said. “We choose Montana first.”

And they want their store to support all types of diets. For example, Lynette said she is a vegetarian but said, “I fully support having meat in our grocery store.”

That meat is 100 percent Montana beef.

The couple hasn’t made big changes to the store but has done things like replace shelving, changed produce distributors — it’s now Quality Foods out of Bozeman — and expanded the dairy and bulk food section.

Don said the feedback from the community has been ‘fantastic — a lot of positive comments.”

Another change is the store’s hours have been expanded by 30 percent. Food Works is now open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

The store may be contacted at 222-8223 or on Facebook and Instagram. For product suggestions or questions, email info@foodworkslivingston.com.

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