Gluten-Free Store Owner Connects with Community

gluten-free store
Clint Pedersen has found his calling as an owner of Jake’s Gluten-free Market

Clint Pedersen is an important part of the local gluten-free community in Boise, Idaho. As the owner of Jake’s Gluten Free Market there, he is responsible for overseeing the gluten-free store, which has a busy dedicated gluten-free bakery.

Pedersen and his business partner purchased the market three years ago. At the time, neither had a personal connection to the gluten-free community, and they viewed buying the gluten-free store as simply a good business opportunity. But it’s become more personal for Pedersen as he has Type 1 diabetes and has begun to follow a gluten-free diet. That gives him a personal connection with his gluten-free customers.

gluten-free storeJake’s Gluten Free Market opened 10 years ago. The retail section carries a variety of gluten-free baking mixes, breads, pastas, canned soups, cookies and other gluten-free products. The freezer is stocked with egg rolls, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and more.

The bakery offers a rotating menu that includes several types of bread such as sourdough, cinnamon swirl and a very popular peasant bread made with millet, teff, tapioca, sorghum and amaranth flours. Treats range from apple pie cupcakes to cinnamon rolls to pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Both bakery and retail products are shipped nationwide and internationally. Pedersen says a recent order for flour came from Indonesia.

He is particularly proud of Jake’s gluten-free bakery, though he is quick to point out he leaves the baking to the professionals. “I’m not the smartest guy around, but I am smart enough to stay out of the bakery,” he says. “I’ve got geniuses for bakers. My requirement is that I want screaming good stuff out on the bakery rack. That’s what I get, and I stay out of it.”

We recently spoke with Pedersen to find out what an average day at the market is like for him. To say he’s enthusiastic about his venture into the gluten-free business world would be an understatement.

What time do you wake up?
I don’t set an alarm so it just depends on whatever sleep I need. It’s typically between 5:30 to 7 a.m.

What’s for breakfast?
I don’t eat breakfast, but I’ll have coffee.

What’s an average day like for you?
Every day is different. Every day is jam packed and I love every minute of it.

I start by reading my emails, doing the store’s books and getting the store cleaned out and ready to go. I put in orders for supplies, and I’ll wait on customers.

My bakers come in at 3 a.m. and so by the time I get here and kind of get things up and running, I cook for them in the store’s kitchen. We all have different food allergies. We have fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. I am a hunter so we have wild fish, wild game.

A lot of what I do [in my job] is advertising and marketing. Last night I was at a chiropractor’s office doing recipe night. Tonight I am going to a gym, and we’re going to pass out samples and coupons. We’ll show people that gluten free is tasty. Saturdays are sample days [at the market]—you try it before you buy it.

What’s for lunch?
I don’t want to brag, but yesterday we had steak, Brussels sprouts, some squash and sliced pears. Today we are having pineapple, baked chicken, fried eggplant made with olive oil, tapioca and coconut flours for the coating and some squash that’s left over.

Is there anything surprising about your day?
Every day is a surprise. I mop the floors, scrub the toilets, clean the vents and change the filters. I do all of the grunge work. I’m at the bottom of the food chain. I work for the customers and my employees. I have hired extremely talented employees. I let them run with their ideas.

What’s your favorite part of the day?
I don’t have a ‘not favorite’ part of the day. I wake up on top of the world. I cannot wait to start my day. Honestly, I’m the luckiest man in the world.

What’s for dinner?
Probably leftovers of what we’ve had for lunch.

What is it like when you have the chance to meet customers?
I have a staff of 5,000: They’re called customers. I will spend at least a half hour with a new customer. It’s a passion I can’t explain. We have a lot of loyal customers. We work hard to give them the very best products.

How has owning the store changed you?
Most profoundly. I didn’t know I would eat gluten-free when I bought the store. It has changed my life immensely. Not only did my symptoms go away, but everything changed. I have to hunt and fish by myself because, frankly, my friends can’t keep up with my energy level.

What does providing access to gluten-free products mean to you?
Very few people get to be involved with a frontier. This is a frontier and I am excited beyond description.

Susan Cohen is a New York freelance writer. She contributes regularly to Gluten-Free Living.

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