Herban Market co-owner Ashlea Hogancamp prepares to eat the special of the day.//Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
The first thing you’ll notice about Franklin’s Herban Market is the olive oil.
Vats and vats of olive oil, which co-owner Ashlea Hogancamp said are called fustis, are just one unique component of the health food store off Franklin Road and Lynnwood Way.
After opening quietly in October of 2015, Herban Market is preparing to expand their market and offer a new restaurant concept.
Owners Ashlea and Matt Hogancamp decided to open the store in Franklin after conducting market research within a six-hour radius around Western Kentucky, where they both grew up and have family.
“There wasn’t any independent market that had a focus like what we’re doing here,” Hogancamp said. “We felt like the population was pretty well-traveled, so they had seen and experienced quality on that level.”
The couple has always been health-oriented in their diet; Matt Hogancamp’s family brewed the now-popular fermented bubbly tea kombucha 50 years ago, he said. Now the store has kombucha on tap.
But Hogancamp said her attention to quality “kicked into crazy mode” when she first became pregnant.
“Once I had my daughter and really started researching how I was going to care for her and feed her and nourish her, it became very apparent that there were not a lot of resources for working families,” she said.
She and her husband wanted to create a place where families could shop with ease and trust for foodstuffs and over the counter medicine and supplements.
Less than three years ago, the Hogancamps were living in Houston; she, working as an architect, while he worked for a corporation as a business systems manager.
“Literally, it felt like a grind,” she said. “It felt like you were having your soul sucked out, a little bit.”
One night at the dining table, Matt Hogancamp floated the idea of opening a health food store.
A year later, the couple quit their jobs, sold their house, and moved to Franklin to pursue their dream.
With no outside investors, the first year was difficult. But about a year ago, Hogancamp said, “it just caught.”
“It was like everyone found out about us,” she said.
Having several celebrity fans doesn’t hurt. Though Hogancamp wouldn’t divulge the names of their customers, one regular, Christian music legend Michael W. Smith, popped into the store mid-morning.
“We like to treat everybody like family,” she said. “We’ve earned our reputation, through a lot of hard work, that we are serious about our quality.”
Their best-selling products are the olive oils and balsamics, supplements, prepared food, and coffee from local roasters.
Though they already offer breakfast and lunch specials from their kitchen, Herban Market is planning to expand with a restaurant into the soon-to-be-vacated space next door in July as their neighbor Tru-I-Care moves to another suite in the same building.
The Hogancamps are hiring a new executive chef to helm the venture, which will feature expanded hours for dinner in field-to-fork style.
“It’s what’s seasonal, it’s what we have an abundance of, it’s what’s fresh,” she said, with a focus on local farmers.
Around 11 a.m., the store is bustling with with shoppers and those who come in for brunch or to visit the Hogancamps.
“We wanted something that a bunch of other people wanted, too,” Hogancamp said, praising their employees and customers. “We stuck true to our commitment to quality, and we just developed relationships.”