It’s a pretty powerful statement when a store has such an impact on you that it changes the direction of your personal journey. That’s what happened to Amabel Narvaez, who used to call the Pacific Northwest home (and loved the store so much that she took a job there), but currently is based out of Costa Rica, working as an online wellness coach and consultant.

“Marlene’s makes buying easy because I can trust that the products on the shelf are completely vetted,” says Narvaez. It helps when the store design and staff are top-notch, too. “The Tacoma location has a homey, small-town feel and the Federal Way store is sprawling and open, and offers (pre-COVID) chair massages. Both locations offer health education, nutrition, and cooking demonstrations.”

Some of Narvaez’s favorite products? Essential oils, EPIC and Genuine Health bars, gluten-free products, bulk items (herbs, teas, spices), dairy-free, wheat-free, soy-free groceries, deli items, smoothies and juices, baked goods, kombucha, jun, probiotic beverages, kimchi, and beauty products.

Out of all the departments, her favorite is mercantile. “I would find gifts, fair-trade and homemade items, local art and jewelry, incense, palo santo, candles, baby items, apparel (the majority of which are socially conscious and fair trade), journals, books (holistic health, kids), calendars, and much more."

Narvaez not only relied on the retailer for groceries, but health and beauty products as well. Marlene’s offers scented and unscented products made without any toxic chemicals or dyes, from face and skin care to nail polish and wildcrafted essential oils. “Marlene’s also has an extensive supplements area with natural and alternative supplements, remedies, and holistic products, including my favorite Bach Flower Remedies,” says Narvaez. “The market also carries local and imported wine and beer, fair trade and local coffee and chocolate, and has a dining room for guests always kept tidy and clean.”

Narvaez knows she’s not the only #1 fan of the store. “Marlene’s is a pioneer brick-and-mortar natural health foods market that has a wide, dedicated following. Folks especially appreciative of Marlene’s include those who are immuno-compromised or have special dietary needs,” she adds.

PLUS: Marlene’s is WholeFoods Magazine’s Retailer of the Year.Find out why here.