LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After her family faced a series of health challenges, Maria Rosabal resolved to make better choices -- even if it meant completely switching careers.
She traded in her 25-year banking career for a job in the nutrition department of a health food store in Tampa.
Rosabal earned a plethora of certificates in health and nutrition while racking up some retail experience and socking away money to someday open her own health food store.
Now, two years later, the 46-year-old is gearing up to open her store, Healthy Living Organic and Natural Market, on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch. The store, set to open the first week of October, will occupy the space at 10671 Boardwalk Loop.
The market's mantra: "It's about educating and empowering people to make the right choices so they can improve their health," said Rosabal, a first-time business owner.
But Rosabal's business isn't the first health food store to open on Main Street.
In 2011, Good Earth Grocery closed after Richard's Foodporium bought it and shut it down.
"With the recent economic challenges, it's become difficult to support a 12,000-square-foot space -- regardless of what type of business it is," Brian Kennelly, president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, told the Herald at the time.
But Rosabal isn't worried about the success of her market, which will span about 2,500 square feet -- substantially smaller than Good Earth.
Good Earth "was much bigger and our goals and missions are different," Rosabal said.
Healthy Living will be more than a grocery store -- it'll be a place to come and learn. The store will host seminars to educate the public on a variety of health topics.
"Our main goal is to provide the people of our community a place that they can come to for all their dietary and nutritional needs," Rosabal said.
The Lakewood Ranch resident will co-own the store with her husband, Fausto Echeverria, and another couple, but she'll run and manage it from open to close each day. The business will create four new jobs on Main Street.
Healthy Living will sell everything from dairy to produce to frozen foods -- all without hormones and chemicals. It will have a section for vitamins and supplements and a made-from-scratch juice bar where employees will juice fruits and vegetables into different concoctions.
Organic foods tend to be higher in price, but Rosabal urges people to think twice about their diet before they resort to that stigma.
"You don't need to (buy) everything at once," she said. "When you decide to make the changes, you can make the changes according to the need."
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.