The Rural We: Michael Uccillini
Micael Uccillini and his spice rack.
Michael Uccillini is the owner of Red Hook Natural Foods. The store has been open right in the center of the village for two decades now and is a humble fixture of the community and resident’s diets. Uccillini is soft-spoken and direct, he knows everyone and is seemingly always at the store. When most of Main Street is dark his store can be found reliably open and stocked with the things you need and plenty more. Though he’s an institution now Uccillini still keeps things fresh offering new really high-quality services like fresh-as-can-be fish delivered every Friday from Maine and a juice bar.
Even when I lived at home, when I was 15, I started making my own food. Things my parents weren’t eating, like brown rice. It was just something that came to me. I use to get stomachaches from eating apples and then I ate an organic apple and I didn’t get a stomachache. Seemed simple to me.
I started coming up here originally for the Tibetan monastery in Woodstock. I’d been coming up since its inception in 78. In the late 90s, I was involved with a natural food store in Tivoli of all places. It was kinda so-so. With the help of a friend who knew a lot about health and supplements, I opened in Red Hook. I’ve been here 20 years now.
The industry has changed so much. Now it’s all about the money, unfortunately, and not centered on the health. And I have a lot of competition! So what I try to do now is, other than the supplements, which are very good, have more gourmet stuff and specialty items. I have organic chicken and things from the Middle East and Europe. The quality is really good. And the spices! We’ve been told we have the best bulk herb and spice section. I’ve worked really hard on it.
My new thing is - I’m getting fresh fish sent from Maine. 40 pounds a week pre-ordered and delivered on Friday, fresh. I try to get as much as I can just from the gulf of Maine. I don’t get things from the south. I don’t trust the waters there. I’ve been going to Main for 25 years. People love the fish. It’s the best you can get. The only way you can get fresher fish than mine is if you’re in Maine eating it Thursday night.
Another part of my expansion is the juice bar. A nice young woman has started it for me. It’s just on the weekends for now (she’s in school) but we are working on getting it going every day.
I have a good connection with my customer base and consider a lot of them friends at this point. We’re right in the middle of town by the Bard shuttle, and I stay open late at night. I get people coming in after the restaurants, getting off work. I like being here at night.
7478 S Broadway, Red Hook, NY 12571
Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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