Jordan and Kenneth Willoughby are living out a dream as the owners of Sunshine Health Market and Café.
The family founded company has operated in Shreveport-Bossier City since the 1970s. However, in July 2019, Willoughby and his wife purchased the Shreveport location to own and operate as a separate entity. For about 20 years, the Shreveport location has been open and continues to serve the public at 5751 Youree Dr. in the Southfield Shopping Center.
In just over a year, the Willoughbys have put their personal touches on the business to strengthen its place in the community so the retailer will last for many more years to come.
Together, they’re delivering “quality” and “peace of mind” to customers seeking healthy lifestyles and nourishment, Kenneth Willoughby said. Convenient services added include curbside pick-up orders and drive-thru services for the café.
As a neighborhood staple, a goal continues to be to interconnect with the community while bringing the best, fresh items, he said.
“We have continued the tradition of offering great service and knowledge and it has kept us going strong,” Willoughby said. “We have put some life back into the place and we’re seeing an upward trend. There’s been nothing quite as satisfying in my life as seeing this place turn around. In just about a year, we’ve made a dramatic impact and we’re shooting for the stars.”
Sunshine Health Market
A vital step for ensuring the best shopping experience is to present customers with an astute staff.
Sunshine employees are well-versed in the products and by using the items, they’re able to share their personal experience. This allows them to guide customers in deciding what will work best for their needs, Willoughby said.
“This is all to show customers A.) We care. And B.) We have your best interest in mind. We don’t want to sell you something we don’t believe in,” he said.
In the market, Sunshine carries refrigerated groceries and dry goods, health and beauty aids, and supplements. Also, there are other natural alternatives for cleaning products, soaps, and hair products, such as non-chemical dyes.
The supplements section is the largest side and what pulls people in the most, he said. Sunshine customers often seeking natural ways to improve and maintain good health and lifestyle as opposed to depending on pharmaceuticals. The shelves are stocked with a variety of vitamins, probiotics, herbs, CBDs, and other natural health-related boosters broken down by category.
“We’ve got everything from immune-boosting supplements—zinc, vitamin C—we’ve got more kinds of elderberry than you’ve probably ever thought existed,” he said. “We’ve got every possible way you can ever want to take it—gummies, liquids, capsules, tablets.”
The inventory carries major brands and local small businesses’ products. Locally made products are carried in the store, include Ben’s Body Basics natural beauty line and Prep Cakes’ keto diet-friendly, sugar-free dessert alternatives.
As an added courtesy, customers may request products for special orders or suggest a product to be carried in the store.
The store hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On the first Tuesday of every month, Sunshine hosts a “Super Tuesday” sale during which all regular priced supplements are offered for 20% off and the store is open until 7 p.m.
A loyal rewards card is available for free to customers to use solely at the Shreveport store.
Quality is key
The Willoughbys take great measures to supply the best grade of products, as well as items one may not find at other retailers in the area.
“Our quality is what sets our store apart, for sure,” Kenneth Willoughby said. “What you’re going to get with us is something we have sourced ourselves. We know where the products come from and can promise you the ingredients are the highest level.”
The pricing is competitive in the café and the store, he said, although it is expected some items may be higher than a generic brand or than at a big box store. Keeping sales prices reasonable can be a challenge when competing with chain retailers who are able to order in bulk at lower distribution rates. The payoff is that while corporations may focus on quantity, Sunshine focuses on quality, he said.
“We strive to pass on as much of our savings as we can to our customers,” he said. “While you will end up typically paying a little more here, you will also be guaranteed to get something effective.”
Generic or lower-grade products may have fillers that allow their prices to be reduced, but not without its sacrifices. High quality and pure products are made with more active ingredients and often come with fewer side effects, he said.
“You may pay less in money, but everything’s got a price,” Willoughby said.
Sunshine Health Café
The same attention to detail in the store is applied in the kitchen.
“You know when you order a sandwich from us, you’re getting either organic or all-natural ingredients. We don’t use anything that has preservatives or additives or nitrates—nothing like that. To the best of our ability, we like to source things locally.”
The café hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The full menu is available. The café has a spacious seating area for dining in and meet-ups. The newest feature is the drive-thru window service.
On Oct. 19, Sunshine Health Cafe will introduce its breakfast services, beginning at 8 a.m. The menu will feature a variety of muffins, egg cups, almond butter and avocado toasts, homemade granola bars, and organic coffee.
The café offers traditional deli items, such as soups and sandwiches.
“If you’re looking for a quick lunch and you’re looking for something tasty and fresh, we’ve got it in spades,” Willoughby said.
“If it’s the first time coming to Sunshine Health Café and you came hungry, I would recommend the Turkey Avocado Melt,” he said. “It will fill you all the way up. It’s probably our heaviest, densest sandwich you can get.”
The sandwich is a 40-year customer favorite. It’s set off with an avocado spread that’s made in-house with organic avocados, turkey, cheese, sprouts, tomatoes on organic sourdough bread. It’s served with blue corn tortilla chips.
He also recommends any of the hot plate dishes, which are quiche, enchiladas, and lasagna. Teas are brewed in-house. Another staple is a sweetened red Zinger tea, which is a red hibiscus and a sweet green tea blend.
A new menu category on the menu is the cold-pressed juices.
The newest item is the “Scoop Trio,” added in March. Sunshine a tuna salad, chicken salad, and avocado spread made with classic, original recipes. The individual items have been sold as individual scoops or by the pint or quart. Now, diners may order a three-scoop platter of any combination of the varieties.
The Sunshine Chip Cookie is a longstanding, highly in-demand item—and the one unhealthy item on the menu. The sweet treat is baked with a variety of chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and walnuts.
In the café, the proprietors maintain their stance on supporting other locally owned businesses and offering fresh ingredients. They are planning to grow and source sunflower sprouts from Cotton St. Farms, a hydroponic farm in downtown Shreveport.
“I think it’s important for our local businesses to be a part of the community. How can we expect people to support us when we’re not doing the same thing? That’s part of our philosophy,” he said. “We care about our community, we care about our customers, and we will make sure to brighten your day. How can we brighten your day?”
If you go
What: Sunshine Health Market & Café
Where: 5751 Youree Dr., Shreveport
Store Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Open until 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.
Café Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday