- December 1, 2021
April Nobles was inspired to open her own bulk-food store in Winter Garden after visiting one with her parents in the Tampa area. It was her first time in such a store, and she was blown away by the choices available to customers, she said.
Nobles, a stay-at-home mother for nearly five years, was ready to do something outside of the house now that her children were in school. She and her father had been brainstorming ideas, and she thought there could be a market for a bulk-item business in Winter Garden.
When the appropriate-sized space became available at the end of last year, Nobles jumped on the opportunity.
This month, she debuted her new store, The Bulk Pantry, located in the Tri-City Shopping Center on the northeast corner of South Dillard Street and West Colonial Drive.
The shop sells a variety of snack items and cooking and baking ingredients, including dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, flours, rice, granola mixes, coffees (by the cup and packaged whole bean), soup mixes, candies (including sugar free) and spices.
In February, Valentine's Day candy is being featured.
Nobles brews coffee daily. Options include Cafe Cubano and a signature roast, Good Morning Winter Garden, a medium-roast blend created by Sweetwater Organic in Gainesville.
There are catchy daily specials offering 10% off, including Mix-It-Up Monday, which features soups and trail mixes; Tate's Tuesdays, which applies to all Tate's cookies; and the Waste “Less” Wednesday offer, which applies to customers taking in their own containers. Spices are buy-one-get-one-free on Saturdays.
When baking, sometimes all the chef needs is a pinch of “this.” So one rack is dedicated to jars of ingredients — such as ginger, nutmeg and turmeric — that can be purchased by the teaspoon.
Nobles is working on expanding her shop's website to include recipes and has several she is considering, possibly even some family recipes.
“I have a good one — my grandmother's recipe,” she said. “It's one of those things that pulls on our heartstrings. Is this something I want to share, or do I keep it in the family?”
The recipes she selects will definitely include ingredients sold in her store, she said.
Assisting her still today is her dad, Scott Nickerson, who is at the store most days.
“We've gone through every step of it together, and I couldn’t have done it without him and his background and knowledge (of business),” Nobles said.
The pair set up the shop with upcycled products that suggest a hometown feel, she said.
“You won’t come into the store and see a lot of commercialized big-box-store anything,” she said. “Everything in here has been repurposed from some other use at some point. That’s the feel I wanted. We’re not going to have the metal shelving.”
The Bulk Pantry is giving Nobles a chance to offer a bit of herself to the West Orange community, and she is eager to meet residents who share her passion for quality ingredients.
“It’s been on my heart,” she said. “I’ve been in retail all my life, and I've worked for big companies and individual companies, and I've seen the good and the bad. You take all of that, and you put it all together, and you open your own thing and hope that it all turns out.
“I felt like it would fit in with the vision the community has, and I thought it was a good fit for the community and for myself,” Nobles said.