By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
A few days ago, Gwen Williams, who with her husband Roy owns Herbs & More in Athens called me with a pleasantly urgent request for the April 20th Athens Now front cover slot. I asked her, “What’s up?” “Mary Sulcer is back, and I want to do an article about Mary, Mollie, and Abbie,” she replied.
It had been a while since I had seen Mary, who, with her husband Bud, were the ones who previously owned Herbs & More, and it was a happy reunion. Now that she had gotten a few years of retirement under her belt, she felt the need to “get back after it,” and working part-time back in her old stomping grounds was just what the doctor ordered. Mary’s story is especially interesting, because you don’t often see someone parlay a debilitating health crisis into a thriving business; but that is what she and Bud built, and then sold to Roy and Gwen.
In 1999, Mary was struggling with fibromyalgia to the extent that she was hardly able to function. She did not realize at the time that many factors come into play with this most difficult, painful, and mysterious auto-immune disease, and she was desperate for answers. A woman by the name of Flo Ellis originally started Herbs & More, and together they began to get to the bottom of Mary’s dilemma.
Mary found that supplements and HGH were the winning combination for turning her health around, as well as changing what she ate and how she managed stress. She also knew that her journey of recovery was causing her to head toward another career, and while Mary had many years of experience in business, helping people regain their health became her passion. Bud was right there with her, and that is when they met Roy and Gwen.
The Sulcers began to use Roy’s specialized line of supplements, and their health continued to improve. In 2000, Bud and Mary purchased Herbs & More from Flo, ran it until 2010, and then decided they wanted to retire. So they did, sort of. For several years, Bud still worked part time at the store, and today comes in every once in a while to help out. Then, the time came when Mary knew she needed to get back in the saddle. “I’m back home,” she told me with a smile as we sat at the antique oak table and brightly-painted press-back chairs that are a part of Herbs & More’s homey scene.
“What has changed?” I asked her. My question was in reference to what she was observing both with customers as well as when she was out and about in life. “People are paying way more attention to their health,” she said. When she and Bud got started, people had the idea that you could eat what you wanted, live in an unhealthy manner, and pop some pills or even natural supplements to fix what was ailing you. Now more people are aware that the approach has to be holistic in order to work long term. “It pays off to teach,” Mary said, and added, “People have come back and thanked us for what we taught them. We feel blessed by the knowledge we gained at Herbs & More, and paying it forward keeps us young.” Another change for Mary is using the Whole Body Vibration system that is available at Herbs & More. “I just started, but I can tell it gives me more energy,” she said.
Mary went on to tell me how much fun she is having working with Mollie Clem (Gwen’s mother) and Abbie Cooper, who has managed the store since February of 2017. Mary is working Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and is hoping that many of her former customers will come in to see her as well as find out what’s new at Herbs & More.
Next up in our time together was Mollie Clem, who is going to be 80 years old in October. Molly works full-time, and is truly a “product of the product.” The first life-style change she made was to quit drinking sodas, and then she altered the way she ate. Change didn’t come all at once, but Mollie began working more diligently on building her health when Gwen and Roy bought the store. The supplement that helped her the most at first was MSM +C. MSM, known in science as Methylsulfonylmethane, is a naturally occurring dietary sulfur that is somewhat fragile and gets destroyed easily with our modern food production systems. Its purpose largely is to help maintain the elasticity and integrity of connective tissues. It also helps produce healthy hair, nails, skin, and tendons. Vitamin C fights disease as well helps with forming connective tissue, metabolizing amino acids, and synthesizing hormones. With a twinkle in her eye, she popped up from the table and showed me how she could do a squat. “A customer came in the other day,” Mollie said, “and I showed him this,” referring to her agile down-and-up movement. He was understandably amazed, and she proceeded to tell him how she played softball until she was 65, and basketball into her 60s. These days she does a lot of walking, both at the store and at home.
“Age has nothing to do with how old your body is,” she said firmly while she grinned.
Mollie continued on and told me that working full-time kept her sanity after the death of her husband. “I love people, and I love helping them,” she said. She also said with gratitude, “Changing my lifestyle saved my life.” When the store is quiet, Mollie can often be found reading the Bible which, along with various health-related publications, are always on the oak table. I have also watched her sit with customers and listen to their stories. Herbs & More wants to let people know that they are welcome to come and sit for a while. “It’s like a town square and country store all in one,” Mollie said.
A couple of days later I had the pleasure of interviewing Abbie Cooper whose story is the complete opposite of those of Mary and Mollie. Abbie is a wonderful young woman who, as is the case with most of us, has gone through some rough spots in her life. Today, she is a single mom who owns a home and is the manager of Herbs & More. She also does the foot detox baths for Herbs & More customers. She and her daughter Maddie attend Refuge Church, and Abbie has much to say about the “other part of her journey,” which was her health.
“I came here to help Herbs & More put in their POS (point of sale credit/debit card system),” Abbie said. “I was probably drinking 40 oz. of soda per day. Her “drug of choice” as far as soda was concerned was a hyper-caffeinated cola product whose first name was “Diet” and last name was “Max.” She was also a fast food/junk food junkie, as well as a Type-1 juvenile onset, insulin-dependent diabetic. “I could bake and eat a whole tube of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls or orange rolls in one sitting,” Abbie said. She told me with a laugh that Gwen approached her about working for them, but “threatened her life” if she didn’t start taking care of herself, beginning with the soda. “Gwen and Roy believed in me before I believed in myself,” she said. Like Mary and Mollie, she benefitted greatly from the MSM+C, as well as two more products – Moving Experience and Feminine Factors. I asked Abbie what strengths she brings to make Herbs & More what it is. “I keep things simple and organized, and I don’t sugarcoat things with customers. I am also driven. There is a purpose, I am living it, and I am paying it forward,” she said. If being strengthened to make healthy changes is what you are looking for, then you need to get down to Herbs & More because Mary, Mollie, and Abbie are ready to help.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner