Sabadosa: One of Oak Lawn’s best-kept secrets
By Regina Sabadosa Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2013 9:50AM
Bill Eakins at American Health Foods. | Reggie Sabadosa~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 18, 2013 11:14PM
My husband and I have lived in Oak Lawn for 33 years. We’ve raised our family here and have supported many local stores and establishments.
However, in all that time, I was unaware until recently that a health food store was in the village — in the same location, 5142 W. 95th St., since 1967.
Owner Bill Eakins and his business partner, Bill McClean, opened American Health Foods, and Eakins bought out McClean about 20 years ago. McClean recently passed away.
My daughter and I accidently stumbled upon American Health Foods a few weeks ago when trying to find almond flour for a recipe. The store had it along with an impressive array of other wheat-free/gluten-free and organic flour alternatives such as soy, rice and quinoa.
A retired Oak Lawn firefighter, Eakins started out as a respiratory therapist at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He said he’s proud that every item in his store is “top quality and all natural.”
Even before opening the health food store, he strongly believed that a healthy lifestyle is a key to disease prevention. So he jumped at the chance to become a business owner specializing in holistic and homeopathic products.
Eakins said that his store in the 1970s sold and often shipped organic vegetables, an unusual concept back then, and included a juice bar and a wall freezer full of organic meats. As these products became more mainstream over time, he and his partner scaled back, allowing them to open up more shelf space for other natural product lines.
Today, the shelves at American Health Foods are filled with whole food supplements, natural herbs, sports nutrition, super fruit juices, homeopathic remedies, books on nutrition, and vegan cosmetics.
In addition to working at the store each day, Eakins employs three part-timers — Bev, Shirley and Winnie — boasting of their vast knowledge of herbs and nutrition. If the store doesn’t carry a product a customer is seeking, he will fill special orders.
Eakins said American Health Foods gets a lot of referrals and recommendations from area gyms and fitness centers. His website (www.americanhealthfoodsil.com) invites customers to ask about a 10 percent discount membership card. The store is open daily except for Sunday. For more information, call Eakins at (708) 423-5099.
Eakins finds it amusing that many people don’t know where his store is, although he’s celebrating 46 years in Oak Lawn. When they call for directions, all he has to say is that the store is across the street from Starbucks, and they immediately know where to find it.
News from our neighbors
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church’s annual Vacation Bible School will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 22 through 25 at 8607 Narragansett Ave., Burbank. The school is open to children ages 3 through eighth grade. A light dinner will be served at 6 p.m. for all attendees. Class activities include Bible study, games, songs and crafts. To register your child, call the church office at (708) 598-4780.