Local store appeals to special diet needs

Drug Emporium offers vegan, vegetarian and allergy-free food options. Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

By Jordan Hearne

Students hungry for healthy food can stock up on specialty items in a local Waco store.

Drug Emporium is a pharmacy and grocery store hybrid located at 5900 Bosque Blvd., off La Salle Avenue, that offers organic foods and options for those with special dietary needs.

The store is suited to people who follow vegan and vegetarian diets with meatless frozen dinners and precooked meals without dairy ingredients.

There also is a large selection of gluten-free and allergen-free products for those with special dietary requirements.

Some options include cookies by Enjoy Life Foods that are allergy-friendly and Glutino’s frozen pizzas created with rice flour crusts.

According to the company’s website, www.drugemp.com, each Drug Emporium’s goal is to bring healthy lifestyle choices to the community through organic, natural and environmentally friendly products, along with information about healthy food choices.

Mark Browning, continuations assistant in Moody Library Acquisitions, shops at Drug Emporium for his gluten-intolerant stepdaughter and said he believes students with special diets can benefit from the store.

“They have more products that are labeled gluten-free and they do a better job than most places of dividing products up into soy products and gluten-free products,” Browning said.

Michelle Mancil, assistant manager of Drug Emporium, said the store also carries many supplements based off phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables that are more recognizable in the body than commercially-produced vitamins.

The store also has a diverse sports section with proteins, amino acids and creatines that athletes may need.

While the store has been around for years, store manager Scott Halzorson said he believes many Baylor students don’t know about it because of its location.

“We have been getting some more students in here lately, but unfortunately the store is just a little too far outside of the Baylor bubble,” Halzorson said.

Customer service is taken into consideration when it comes to giving shoppers exactly what they are looking for.

Halzorson said Drug Emporium specializes in many products that local grocers like Wal-Mart and HEB don’t carry, and if a particular item is not on their shelves, the store can special order the product.

“If someone just loves Amy’s frozen dinners and they don’t see their favorite one, they can get a department manager over there and let them know,” Halzorson said.

He said if a customer changes his or her mind after an item is specially ordered, it’s not a problem.

“It’s just a service we offer for free for convenience,” Halzorson said.

Drug Emporium stands out among its competitors, Mancil said, by providing a wide variety of food choices, whole herb teas and all-natural shampoos and soaps.

“We do have a broad selection, I don’t know that anywhere else in Waco offers that,” Mancil said.