Grace Carswell is still Amazing after all these years, although she has not been part of the Amazing Grace Whole Foods market since 2006. After splitting with husband and business partner, Paul Koenig, both the store and its creators have gone through some changes.
When they opened the store at 10:30 a.m. on June 17, 1995, Grace may have had thoughts about the positive impact such a business would have on the city; but I doubt she ever thought it would close its doors this soon.
The latest news is the store will shut down by the end of the month.
Quickly, quietly. And sadly.
“Four years ago a divorce caused me to let go of Amazing Grace,” Carswell, now remarried, commented on Facebook. “This was possibly the worst decision of my life. Now the city will share my great loss as the store closes its doors at the end of February. This sad day comes as all my attempts at buying it back have failed. Perhaps the universe has a miracle in store for me. I am still open for any and all possibilities.”
I’m still hoping to speak with proprietor Paul Koenig or management soon.
The familiar Highlands location at Bardstown Road between Patterson and Grinstead was a natural, if you will, for local “green” shoppers, including many a left turn coming home from downtown to shop rush hour.
It was the Highlands location for organic produce, healthy baked goods, a fresh deli of wraps and entrees to-go, unique gifts and publications for growth and well being.
Regular visitors included parents seeking the benefits of a safe table and household environment for their children, weekend picnic packers in Cherokee Park, vegans, vegetarians and carnivores.
Classes and events from yoga and Tai Chi to dinners with Tibetan Monks and local activism gatherings were part of the community resource with a global view. The crowded business card and brochure wall and tables were a testament to the mind, body, spirit community of Louisville.
Customers seeking one-on-one consult for diabetes, autism, detox and menopause always found the store to be an informed resource. Grace excelled in the art of aggregation, doing the research and footwork for her patronage.
“That store was a wealth of people,” Carswell stated, “That was its greatest gift to all of us.”
Grace’s vitality and energy are contagious and I feel that with the right support, she can carve a new niche with the very tools she used to build Amazing Grace.
Her current vocation is Home Health Occupational Therapist with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare. As for her future plans, Carswell shared that she would gladly partner with anyone who could help in funding a new store. The areas of education and empowerment are key in her life and she is considering creating a center for longevity.
The irony of the little store that supported local, independent business and sustainable lifestyles is no longer able to sustain.