GF Joe’s – A new local Gluten Free Market

Shop with reckless abandon, but retrain your brain a bit too.

Gone are the days of buying the three remaining boxes of your goodies on the grocer shelves out of fear of never seeing it appear there again. Yeap, I officially now live in gluten-free shopping near-perfect heaven. (Now, if only Whole Foods would build a bakehouse and a green grocer here…..)

In April of this year, Joe Spancic and his wife, Kaylee, opened “G.F. Joe’s Market” in Tumwater, WA. This local market fulfills the wishes of many and consolidates the shopping for all of us. (And the GRAND OPENING Celebration is THIS WEEKEND – May 17 & 18 – with free balloons, samples, and door prizes – beginning at 10AM on Saturday 5/17! I hope to see you there!)

On my first visit in April, I stopped in on a whim. A friend had told me about the market opening and I convinced my husband that we should go “check it out”. My poor love. He’s been on so many car trips while we venture off into the never-explored lands to find some gluten-free item,goodies, store, rare flour, etc. Really. He’s a trooper.

That first night we ventured out and he tried to pull back my aspirations a bit. After all, we knew nothing about what to expect or what a “gluten free market” here – in a small-ish community – would look like. We have grown accustomed to shopping in Seattle monthly, or the two local co-ops plus local markets.

And now? Now I have my choice of at least 5 different brands of pastas (yea, babee!!) on ONE shelf in ONE store – not FIVE shelves in FIVE stores. Thank you, Joe!

And the pastas aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. What do you crave? Joe’s got it.

(Like the best EVER (and vegetarian, to boot!) Vitamin-C gummy bears in the world, or maybe you crave the new Schar’s crackers…the one like Saltine’s that help you tummy?….. or maybe you just want to pick up a bag of certified gluten-free oats? or Montina flour blend? or rice bran? or soy sauce? or… the list goes on and on and on!)

I sat down with Joe and his wife, Kaylee this Saturday. While I had originally had thought I might include their responses here to our conversation as an interview type blog entry, the more I spoke with them, the more I realized that the entry would be too formal and stiff to represent why I wanted to write it in the first place.

You see, since I was diagnosed in October of 2000, I have done what many of you have: Use the internet as my primary connection point about Celiac and going gluten-free. In fact, my doctor merely told me the name of the disease and a few other things like “no pasta, no bread, etc” and that was that for him.

But not for me. Nope. I went right to the computer and typed in “celiac disease” in a google search box. Pouring forth from google were websites (celiac.com, celiac.org, gluten.net, etc), a few book/author names (Jax and Bette), etc. Within a few clicks, I had found communities of gluten-free people on a few forums or listservs (like the SillyYaks group on Yahoo).

They literally saved me from my own brain. I was staring at my box of now-verboten Kashi cereal and wondering what I was to do. The only flours used were rice, tapioca, potato (starch and flour) and buckwheat (rarely). We bravely made a few breads and even order a slew of pre-made breads and breakfast biscuits for traveling on our honeymoon. My love swears that 2/3 of the weight from our suitcase to Rome was due to the gluten free bread/biscuits inside. (I think he was right.) And… we left most of the gluten-free briquettes behind in Roma without even being touched. They weren’t good.

We attended one “support” group meeting. It was confusing and we felt very disconnected. I should have gone back… but didn’t. And then we moved….to a small town where the words “gluten free” had people asking about dog food.

My, oh my how things have changed, huh? I cannot imagine how good it must feel for those of you diagnosed many, MANY years before I!

And now my world has been improved even more so. Thanks to Joe and Kaylee’s amazing gluten-free market so close to me, I could cry!

Actually, I think I may have just gotten teary on my first night there when I laid eyes on cinnamon gluten-free “graham” crackers, frozen cheese ravioli and gluten freehoisin sauce (!) all in one place. While I had heard about all of these goodies online, I’m not a big fan of ordering food online without knowing what it will taste like. And now… well, now I have a bottle of hoisin sauce waiting for me to do some grilling tomorrow night.

Okay, I think I’m rambling now. No. I know I’m rambling now.

You see this post is harder to write than I imagined.

I wanted to talk about the importance of our gluten-free community. We each do something to help lift up someone else. I blog to share. Bette wrote cookbooks, spoke at meetings, etc. Others spread the word through connections at schools – telling teachers, nurses, etc. That’s what we do. That’s how we’ve been helped too.

And Joe opens a market with the love and support of his family.

On Saturday, while I was visiting with both Joe and his wife, new customers came in. In a heartbeat, you could tell which customers were there to begin the journey and who had already established their path. As I chatted with Joe, Kaylee got up to help the customers find what they needed. She asked who they were shopping for, what what occasion, etc and then lead them around the store to a few items that would fit their need. When they left, you could see the relief in their body language and they eyes. I remembered seeing Joe do this as well on my first night in the shop.

Within GF Joe’s Market, the Spancic family is there to serve as gluten-free guides as well. I began to wonder if every Celiac diagnosis should come with more than just a renovated kitchen to hold all of our goodies and staples, but also a tour of GF Joe’s with Joe & Kaylee.

I think that kind of welcome to the gluten-free life would really help bring out some gluten-free smiles too.

Before I forget, Joe’s son told me that his dad makes one mean Chicken-a-la-King. I even got the recipe. However, I didn’t have any chicken defrosted… SORRY!… so I’ll make and share Joe’s recipe with you all another day. I really wanted to get this post out. I want people to know about their market… and the grand opening….and about the wonderful community we make together.

Each one, reach one. That’s what we teachers say.
I think it fits for the gluten-free world too.

What do you think?
Who or what made your transition to the gluten-free life easier?
What do you wish you could find at your local markets?
What would you shop for at a local GF market if you had one?

I would love to have Joe get some happy WELCOME and GOOD LUCK email for his store.
You can send him email here or to Kaylee.
You can find his website here.
You can read an article from our local paper here about the store/market.

Please leave a comment below and tell me your favorite GF Market treat or food you’d like to try.
I’m going to learn from Carrie and Mary Frances and put all of your names in a hat and then pull one at random on Friday Night.

I’ll send a treat from GF Joe’s to the person whose name I draw after Joe’s Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday. :) (I’ll mail the treat out early next week.)
(Please let me know if you have any other allergies or intolerances so I can find you something at Joe’s. He’s got it ALL, ya know.)

UPDATE: This weekend I attended GF Joe’s Grand Opening. I’m happy to say that my *mom* was with me and my love while we shopped. She even picked the winning name out for the treats. I shipped off a couple goodies to The Devil Dog Family on Sunday afternoon.

20 comments on “GF Joe’s – A new local Gluten Free Market
  1. Devildogwife says:

    You are sooo lucky!

    I’ve been trying to locate gluten free graham crackers for a while as our family wants to be able to have smores again. What is the brand on those graham crackers? Are they any good? lol!

    The other thing that is really hard to find is ice cream cones. We found some accidently one time when we stopped at this tiny little store. They had this little gluten free section. My daughter squealed with delight when she saw the ice cream cones. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find them since then… Oh well, she enjoyed them while they lasted. ;)

    Ah, I would so love to have a store like that! Wishing them the very best!!

    The graham crackers are good…but I am not sure if they are up to par for me for s’mores. The flavor is nice and I have actually been eating them super slowly. I think I am so used to NOT having treats again that I consume them soooooooooooo slowly as to have them a little longer. I guess I need to retrain myself NOT to do that! I bought the cinnamon variety. I’ll make some S’mores soon and let you know. The brand name is Josef’s. I actually had not heard of them before buying these crackers but see that they have a large online store too. The website address is

    http://www.josefsglutenfree.com/crackers.html

    They DO have ice cream cones too! Wahoo!

    I’m glad you gave me your treat picks! :)
    This is going to be fun!
    -Kate

  2. Sheltie Girl says:

    Wow! This is so cool that a store like this has opened in your area. I just wish someone would do that around my area.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten a Go Go

  3. carrie says:

    So awesome!! VERY COOL! I wish I had a store like that!! I shop few and far between for gluten free stuff. mostly online really. Piggly Wiggly just isn’t that accomodating, except for maybe corn meal!

    I love going to Whole Foods in Raleigh when I get a chance though and they have gluten free mixes and crackers and all kinds of yummy things!

    I love their selection of frozen stuff, even though I never purchase it because I live so far away that it would defrost before I get home!

    My favorite gluten free goody that I RARELY buy because they are so hard to find around here are Kinnikinnicks oreos… or kinneos… or something like that! I LOVE those things, but I can only find them in this tiny little health foods store about 2 hours from where I live! SO I only get them occasionally, which is a really good thing probably! haha!

    This is a very nice story!! I hope they do really well! I would certainly be a regular if I lived there!

    Oh Carrie – i *wish* you lived here…and Natalie…and Ginger…and Steve….. okay.. ALL of us. We’d be on FIRE! :)

    I just tried the Kinnik cookies you are referring too. And yes – those babies ARE good! MMM! There is only one danger of having GF Joe’s nearby….. I’m going to eat them ALL! lol :)

    -Kate

  4. What a great post and even better, what a great store! You are so lucky to have this in your ‘hood! I wish them all the luck in the world!

    Steve

  5. Cassandra says:

    Boy you are lucky!

    You know, a few weeks ago, Braden told me he had a dream. I was curious as to what my 6 year-old was dreaming about. He had dreamed that he and I had opened a totally gf store, and on the weekends, we served meals, and donuts and muffins on Wednesday mornings. Now how cute is that!

    I wish I could easily find some gf cheeze-it type crackers (and I don’t want to make them myself). I really like the ones from Out of the Breadbox in Colorado, but the price and shipping would be way too steep for me.

    Enjoy your new store, and enjoy it lots. We want Joe and Kaylee, and others like them, to really thrive!

  6. KAY GUEST says:

    How wonderful to have a gluten-free store near you! The best of luck to the owners of this new store. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in June and he has always followed a gluten-free diet during that time (or should I say, he has TRIED to!) Originally he is from England and was first diagnosed in 1958 in London at the age of three! I have tried to talk him into having his own blog so that this could give others with celiac disease this wonderful hope that they can get through this too! I know that Richard (my husband who TRIES to be gluten free) would love cheese crackers .
    To be honest with you, he is just very, very grateful for ANYTHING that is safe to eat. I love to read your blog. Have you lived in England too? They love to use that word “gobsmacked”! Keeping it gluten free- Kay

  7. Thomas says:

    Hey Kate,

    We were lucky too when we left the Atlanta area and came up here to Montana. Missoula has a store call the Good Foods store which stocks everything under the sun organic and/or gluten free. I can agree with you – how nice it is to have a place where you don’t have to drive forever to get to it.

    Great post. And I agree with Cassandra – we need more folks like Joe and Kaylee to do this and t hrive.

  8. Glutigirl says:

    Oh, oh my. I think they would have to call the paramedics for me if I were to go into a store like that. I would be overcome by the happy bug and pass out!

  9. Lucy says:

    Wow, how fantastic. Lucky, lucky you.

    I wish them all the best luck in the world with this venture. What can we, the rest of the gluten free blogging community do to support them, other than this: spread the word?

    Great question, Lucy. I think the more we spread the word and support markets that open for us, the better. It will encourage others to take the leap into the specialty foods market world. Each of us have our talents and continue to support each other to the best of our ability. Since you and I blog, maybe we can influence someone to open another market, etc.

    I have emailed Joe and his wife to see if they are ready for shipping (maybe locally? in the US?) but I imagine since they just opened, this may not yet be possible. I hope one day they flourish enought that everyone can experience their goodness via a visit OR shipping too. :)

    -Kate

  10. Kristina says:

    Wow, sounds like a great store! You are really lucky to have it in your area. Fresh and Natural in the Twin Cities is awesome- and we were lucky to pass it on the way to the dog park each week- but I have to say, even they didn’t have GF oats, Montina flour, hoisin sauce, graham crackers. Enjoy!

  11. Tiffany says:

    Kate, that is so neat! I would be so excited to have a store like that! We do have a small health food store near by, but it’s not got a whole lot of great stuff…they are growing though. I would just love a totally GF store; I imagine myself floating on a cloud through the store just grabbing anything I could off of the shelves! Someday maybe my dream will come true! Ha!

    Enjoy your new GF heaven!

  12. Joy says:

    Who or what made your transition to the gluten-free life easier?
    You, and all the other GF bloggers out there! I’m newly diagnosed (6 months) with DH, and the first thing I did when I got the call from my dermatologist was do a google search. My RA at school also has to eat GF, and she was an amazing help as well.

    What do you wish you could find at your local markets?
    Pretzels! The glutino ones are to die for. Seriously, I crave those all the time. Also a better selection of pre-made bread. At school I didn’t have an oven, so I was rather limited on what I could cook. The only GF bread available locally is…ok, not something you’d make a sandwich with, though.

    GF Joe’s looks amazing, enjoy!

  13. Kay says:

    I’ve been lucky to find informed folks at my local healt food stores, but a whole gf store would be DIVINE! A new Fresh Market is opening in Indianapolis soon. I even called their home office to see if they’d consider adding a gf bakery or cafe. No dice.

    I can’t have gluten, corn, soy or any of the gums. So I do all my own baking. And I’ll have a big garden this summer. I’m not satrving or anything. I sure miss store bought snacks. These days I just do without.

    Good luck, GF Joe’s! Please open a franchise in Indy!

  14. zebe912 says:

    I agree with Kay that we have some pretty decent health food stores around here that at least try to carry a decent selection. Having everything in one place and not spending hours reading each label would be awesome though.

    For quite a while I’ve toyed with the idea of opening an “alternative foods” bakery. I think it would be nice to have a facility where you could get sugar free, or gluten free, or nut free, etc. baked goods that actually taste good. When I used to work at a bakery we only offered two options for a sugar free cake and it was yellow or chocolate and made out of a sweet & low box mix. I just think people on special diets deserve better than that.

    While I’m not celiac and I’m ruling out wheat because of migraines, trying to learn all of the GF rules is overwhelming. Trying to do all sorts of substitutions is tricky when you don’t know the basics. As I said on my blog, it is posts from GF’ers like you that have helped me learn.

    Since I”m not supposed to have refined sugar or alternative sweetners either, it has been difficult to find desserts that I like. The cookies and brownies I’ve tried have all been really dry. I really would like a doughnut too! I almost got the frozen Kinn. ones but then saw that sugar was ingredient number two so I had to put them back :-(

  15. M-Elle says:

    I am so excited for you and envious! I’m even more excited that they’re only a few hours away from me…guess who will be crossing the border first chance she gets?!

    I can’t even think of a treat…I’d be too overwhelmed!!! Crackers…that’s what I would like to get. I love the glutino ritz style and have a hard time finding them, especially their new vegetable flavoured ones…YUM!!!

    Enjoy!
    M-Elle

  16. Ginger says:

    I am almost speechless. How great for you! I drove through Tumwater last March. Guess I will have to make another trip out to the Pacific NW. I have been craving cheeze its and am going to make your quinoa cheese crackers this eve. Wish me luck!
    I think if there was one thing I craved that I wish I could get in a store it would be: ravioli, healthy poptarts, tortinos pizza rolls – ok three things that are more difficult to duplicate – all stuffed stuff.
    Ginger

  17. Greg says:

    anxiously waiting for that gluten free chicken a la king recipe!

  18. missy says:

    Like you said, the place is great!! Super helpful, great selection of healthy foods :)

  19. Candi says:

    They opened a branch in Tacoma too! It’s close to the freeway and the Tacoma Mall, so it’s easy for out-of-towners to find once they know it’s there.

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  1. […] of making our own pastas, we are shopping at G.F. Joe’s to meet our needs.   Being lucky enough to live near a gluten-free market, I can find somethings […]

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