One of Jamie Benge’s goals with her new Soulshine Wellness on Main store that sells vitamins and health food is to offer healthy alternatives to make people feel better and avoid drug abuse.
“One of the real reasons I began is I have a passion for helping people in addiction,” she said. “That’s what my other life’s work is, I work at the Talbert House, the one here in Hamilton. I thought what better way to help combat the opiate crisis than to educate people on natural alternatives to using substances?”
“If you could take a Valerian root instead of a Valium,” it’s a more healthy alternative, she said. “I would like to educate people in a more natural route.”
Benge, a New Miami native, has served on village council for four years there, where many people know her as Jamie Marlow. She’s in the process of transitioning to her married name of Jamie Benge. The mother of three is an employment services specialist at Talbert House, helping clients find jobs.
“I really want to focus on sports nutrition with (indoor sports complex) Spooky Nook coming,” she said. “It’s going to be such a big deal for Hamilton.”
The store’s name came from the Allman Brothers Band’s 1994 song, Soulshine.
The store location, 508 Main St., has long served as a vitamin shop. Its most recent owner sold the store, and Benge has been giving the shop a makeover, painting the walls, tiling the floor and adding a canopy look on the ceiling, with live plants. There will be a reading nook people can use to read about medical conditions and supplements.
“I plan on having a whole wall that honors Hamilton’s health history,” Benge said. Among the signs she can display are the recent “Health Food” sign, and a prior sign for “Rainbow Health Foods,” and another sign for “Sunshine Health Foods.”
The store now sells pre-packaged health foods, and she expects to offer fruits and vegetables next season, raised by her cousin, Greg Payne. Yoga classes also are planned in about six months, and, “hopefully by then COVID’ will be over. Everybody wants to feel better, you know?”
“Hamilton’s up and coming,” she said. “This location, I feel it’s been underappreciated for a while.”
Mallory Greenham, small-business development specialist for the city, was pleased to see the revitalization of the area where Soulshine is located.
Five years ago, development focused heavily on Hamilton’s downtown, but that has spread, she noted. “And then it started in the 100 block of Main. Then people wanted to be in the 200, and the 300. And now we’ve got a couple of businesses opening in the 500 block. We’ve got the Hub on Main across the street, and it’s just spread throughout the entire district.”
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