For the health of it: Meet the South Side's newest business

Health can take many forms, and one Fort Wayne entrepreneur, Dave Thomas, is betting on the vitality of the 46807 neighborhood on multiple levels with his new business, the Health Hut Wellness Center.

Located in the distinctive “pyramid building” on Fairfield Ave. (just down the street from Wunderkammer Company), the Health Hut officially opened on Nov. 9.

Thomas describes it as a one-stop-shop for health supplements, education, and more—bringing health-conscious options to the city's south side. He and his business partner, thoracic surgeon Dr. Scott E. Henry, are working to add value to the '07 community and help the local neighborhoods have a hand in shaping what their venture becomes.

The Health Hut is located in the distinctive pyramid building on Fairfield Avenue.

Thomas says he was inspired to start a health-related business on the city's south side due to his background in health-related positions.

"After I graduated, I moved to Arizona and was working with American Drug Stores as an operations manager," he says. "Later, I moved to Fort Wayne and took a job with Kroger's distribution center as a logistic manager. Then I went back to school and got my master's degree in counseling and have been working with kids and families for the last 25 years.”

Health Hut opened on Nov. 9, 2019.

Throughout his career, he’s had an interest and commitment to health and wants to help others live their best lives. To that end, the Health Hut will have a full line of CBD products, shea butter, African black soap, fragrance oils, and other natural products that will cater to the south side's diverse population.

When it comes to choosing which products to sell, Thomas is scrupulous in his sourcing, too. 

“We really emphasize the idea of the purity and the quality of our products,” he says, adding that they’ve partnered with Joy Organics, the No. 1 THC-free broad-spectrum CBD brand.

Health Hut's CBD products come in a variety of forms.

He is particularly excited about introducing people to the benefits of African Black Soap and shea butter, both of which have long been celebrated for their aesthetic and therapeutic benefits by African cultures. 

“We’re just now seeing Western society get on board with shea butter, and they’re using it in different cosmetic products because it’s a good moisturizer,” he explains. “But this is all unadulterated and pure; it's not added to lotion or anything like that.”

Bars of African Black Soap sell for $5 each.

While these products will be staples in his store, Thomas says he's not about pushing product for the sake of it. Instead, he plans to take a consultative approach to help customers find the best products for themselves as individuals. That’s why Dr. Henry will offer telehealth consultations at the Health Hut, as well.

Thomas says they're open to working with complementary professionals, like yoga instructors, to offer a holistic package, too.

Health Hut offers pure whipped shea butter in multiple scents.

Wherever the business takes them, Thomas says it’s important that they work with like-minded employees, vendors, and partners. He’s already in good company with other community-focused people investing in the '07.

“Mr. Chuck Surack invested in Quimby Village, which resulted in some stimulation in the area,” Thomas says. “He wanted to be a part of that whole growth trajectory.”

The Health Hut sells t-shirts made from natural fibers like hemp.

Taking the south side's growth a step further, Thomas took ownership of the pyramid building last December, and he’s been busy renovating the interior since then. You can rest assured that the building looks nothing like its previous iterations, which the entrepreneur says is a good thing.

Now that he’s open for business, he's offering an invitation for the local community to help shape what the Health Hut becomes.

“We’d like to depend on the community for input and see what the community demands, as well,” he says.

Speaking of demand, the Health Hut’s grand opening comes as investors announced plans for a fresh food supermarket downtown. It’s left some wondering: Will southeast Fort Wayne be next? As they say, it’s certainly food for thought.

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.