By Bill Albrecht
Photography by Bill Albrecht
Steeped in charm and unhurried ease, Blanco is an idyllic little town where the old and new have come together in seeming harmony. A vibrant, ever-growing community of artists, musicians and young families now coexist and comingle with established locals whose family names have been around so long they have county roads named after them.
On the north side of the town square, in what used to be a hardware store, is Real Foods Market.
While some old-timers might think it was the newcomers who brought in a health food store, owner Sherri Stockman will set you straight.
“When I moved here, there was a lot of that exclusivity thing,” she says. “You know… newcomers, bleh. But I’d mention that my great-granddad had a general store over on the west side of the square, and it got me in because they knew my people were from here.”
The market grew out of its first location in just 13 months, spent three-and-a-half years in the next, and then settled in its current location seven years ago. Sherri left the old monthly rainfall records dating back to 1900, posted high on one wall—a reminder of this community’s ties to the land.
“While in our first two locations, our name was Blanco Valley Health and it scared a lot of people away from the store,” Sherri remembers. “Literally, they were afraid… like we were going to make them eat alfalfa.” When moving into this much larger location, Sherri felt a change of name would be good to reflect the larger variety of products sold. “We combined whole foods and real goods to come up with the name Real Foods.”
Care for her customers and community is paramount. “My priorities are to provide things that are high-quality, healthy and what people need.” Sherri says. “It’s a small town; you get to know a lot of people’s likes and dislikes, what they’re allergic to. It’s kind of like when you’re a bartender and you can make the drink when the person comes through the door.”
Serving this community has had a few bumps in the road. The larger space hasn’t quite translated to larger profits. “We had to borrow money to move into this location,” Sherri says. “I knew we were ahead of the Blanco growth curve, but I did it anyway.” Then one of the roads that leads directly to the town square was closed for more than a year. “When the street closed our business was cut in half,” remembers Sherri. “Some businesses went belly up, I’m just really stubborn.” Sherri pauses in thought, then smiles, “I’m told it’s not just my stubbornness, though, but a universe thing… this place just needs to be here.”
Real Foods Market & Café
410 Fourth St.