Fresh & Natural Foods has locations in Hudson, WI, Shoreview, MN, and Plymouth, MN. they used to have a location in Bloomington, MN as well, but that closed down some time last year. I’ve visited all the locations except the Plymouth one. the stores have a nice atmosphere~ quaint little grocery stores, much like any of the co-ops in the metro area.
they go out of their way to cater to the gluten-free crowd. they have labels (red arrow tabs, I believe) on their gluten-free items, so they’re easily identifiable. I always read the ingredient lists on the products, just in case. but it makes the search a lot easier, especially for those new to the world of gluten free. they also have brochures with the basics of gluten free living, reading labels, helpful websites, etc.
from time to time they’ll have various events. they periodically hold gluten free festivals, where vendors come and set up booths with samples, so we can try GF products out for free. this is really helpful when you’re new to the game, and also helps veterans of the GF world to discover new foods. it can otherwise be pricey to try out new GF products when you don’t know if you’ll like it or not, since our specialty food can cost quite a bit more.
also, they’ll sometimes host classes (usually free, but you need to pre-register) on starting a gluten free diet, or about gluten free holidays, etc. it’s good to check their website from time to time to keep up on these events. if you can’t make one in the location near you, often they’ll have the same class (or GF festival) at another location the next weekend.
finally, they’re quite good about circulating coupons around town at celiac events, support groups, etc. coupons can also be found in the Blue Sky Guide. I’m not sure if they still do this, but they used to have punch cards for the amount of money you spend each time, eventually resulting in a discount day. so be sure to check that out when you go.
I like to frequent several different co-ops and grocery stores, because even with a huge variety of choices, each place can carry certain items that you just can’t find anywhere else. I often go to Fresh & Natural for a particular type of frosting mix (Toffee Vanilla by Namaste~ yum!). so even if you have a great co-op or other GF product source, you might want to explore new stores once in a while, just to see what you might be missing.