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ROOTED: Nancy's Nifty Nook giving residents a healthier alternative for 33 years

Nancy Young has found a niche at her Nancy's Nifty Nook shop that extends beyond the reach of the tiny plaza at 152 Holland St. East in Bradford
nancys nook
Nancy Young has run Nancy's Nifty Nook bulk food, gluten-free bakery and vitamin supplements store in Bradford on Holland Street East for 33 years.

Nancy Young sells sea salts from the Dead Sea as well as the Atlantic.

Young has found a niche in the market that extends beyond the reach of the tiny plaza at 152 Holland St. East in Bradford.

With 33 years of selling health supplements, bulk baking goods and now gluten-free pies and flours, Young’s shop, known as Nancy’s Nifty Nook survived the pandemic by being the place to go for an immune system boost.

“COVID didn’t really affect us badly because of the fact that people were trying to be healthy, so the health supplements just soared last year,” Young said on a cold January morning during the provincial shutdown.

“Right now we’re selling Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, anything that’s to do with the immune system – that’s the big thing right now.”

First a family studies teacher and later a music teacher, Young saw her chance to skip class by opening the bulk-food shop she had always visited for her own family’s baking needs.

She initially opened the Nook at a small plaza west of her current location but moved over to her “new” store 31 years ago.

Young has kept up with the times, she’s now on Facebook and has a website. And she’s also added gluten-free and Keto-based products to her line-up to appease the new wave of healthy eating.

In addition to baking, Young said her demographic spans across all ages, with many people coming in for immunity boosters during the COVID-19 pandemic, to natural joint-pain remedies.

“Baby boomers and younger people want to be healthy and don’t want prescription drugs – this is a big thing right now,” she said.

Young is determined to sell as much Canadian product as she can source, and offers shelf space to the Olive Oil Company in Barrie and Greaves Marmalades and Jams from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

She’d like to see more people come in to take advantage of the low cost of buying just the amount of product required, for items such as spices, walnuts or chocolate chips.

“Spices are a big thing because if you buy spices in a grocery store, you’re crazy because they’re so expensive,” she said. By way of example, Young said a customer brought in 18 empty spice bottles and asked her to re-fill them.

“I did the 18 and it cost him $15 and change. That’s a really big difference – say it was $3 a bottle at the grocery store, he would have paid $54,” she said.

Although pleased with her loyal customer base, Young would like to see more Bradford residents shopping locally.

“Bradford is becoming a big metropolis. The sad part of it is the people that live in Bradford don’t shop in Bradford. They drive to Newmarket or they’re in Toronto and do their shopping. That’s the biggest thing I found, is that I feel my business should have grown a lot more because of the amount of people in town. We need more focus in the downtown. We have a great group of people downtown and some wonderful businesses and good customer service, I think that council has to do more for businesses,” she said.