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Matthew Kaessinger inside his new store, FIT-Foods in Southold. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Think of it as a little bit of Whole Foods and a little bit of GNC, but right here in Southold.

Matthew Kaessinger of Southold opened his new store FIT-Foods, which sells items like Halo Top protein ice cream, avocado-based mayonnaise and chickpea puffs, on Route 48 earlier this month. You’ll also find protein supplements, Meyer’s cleaning products and natural skin care products.

Kaessinger, the father of four boys including triplets, has operated a nutrition and health food wholesale business in Cutchogue for more than a decade. The operation began out of a small facility on Cox Neck Lane in Cutchogue, where most of his customers found him through word of mouth.

“It was kind of off the beaten path,” he said.

The offerings at the new store reflect an increased demand in the type of items he carries.

More than 60 percent of Americans now avoid soda, according to a recent Gallup poll. And retail natural food sales grew to more than $4 billion in 2015, a 19.5 percent jump since 2013, according to the Specialty Food Association.

Still, Kaessinger noted the difficulty in finding some of his products east of Riverhead, so he decided to try his hand at retail.

“We’re trying to focus on stuff you can’t buy online,” he said, referring to perishable items. “I price things lower pretty much than any other place around.”

And if there are any sports nutrition or health items that you need but he that he does not carry, he will order it for you.

Peter Sabat of Cutchogue has been a customer for the past five years. He noted that Kaessinger has saved him many trips to Trader Joe’s in Lake Grove, which he said is the closest store to sell comparable items.

“It’s difficult finding those type of products locally,” Sabat said. “He has a pretty good selection and he’s very knowledgeable — which is important for those types of things.”

For Patti Homan of Peconic, Kaessinger’s business allowed her to send healthy care packages to her son Graham when he was away at college. She has visited the business for things like macademia nut milk and organic apple cider vinegar.

“To me, he’s a godsend, “ said Homan. “He’s fantastic to have.”

Find FIT-foods at 46025 Rt. 48 in Southold. For more information call (631) 765-8199.

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