When Jeff and Kathy Wright opened their 700 square-foot supplement shop in 1994, who could have predicted that New Port Richey would one day be filled with businesses dedicated to health and wellbeing? For more than 26 years, the Wrights have broken new ground in New Port Richey, and have contributed greatly to the success of the City’s urban agriculture initiatives.
Jeff and Kathy met in Jeff’s hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, where Kathy was attending Florida State University. Jeff grew up in Tallahassee, fully embracing the entrepreneurial spirit that would one day lead him to pioneering a health food store for a quarter-century; he held a paper route from a young age, worked at McDonalds (oh, the irony), and attained a corporate position within Clorox before pursuing a career as a body builder. When they packed up their lives and moved down to New Port Richey, Kathy was working as a dental hygienist – a career that quickly evaporated upon learning that she was allergic to many of the chemicals that she was handling. This prompted Kathy to go back to school for nutrition, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jeff and Kathy opened the first Wright’s Store across from the Southgate Plaza on US-19 at a time when nutritional supplement stores were rare. After 10 years, they had moved down US-19 closer to Main Street, expanded their square-footage, and added an abundant selection of groceries. After 17 years in their new plaza, they once again packed up their things and moved into a beautifully renovated spot in downtown New Port Richey. The current iteration of Wright’s Natural Market continues to grow, adding nutritional consulting classes, blood screening workshops, a full-service café, to-go lunches, and a farmer’s market on the second Sunday of each month. Most recently, they’ve become one of the first brick-and-mortar grocery stores to pilot the Fresh Access Bucks program by Feeding Florida, reducing the financial barrier to nutritional meals.
The Wrights have always had their focus on health, education, and community. They say that it’s gratifying to see this wellness sector emerge around them in downtown New Port Richey with businesses like United Hands Wellness Center, Maharajh Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe, ADAPT Freshness, the White Heron Tea & Gifts, and more on the way!