Landrum Wanderings: Lael Dann to open ‘Local Yocal’ market

Published 10:00 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

Lael Dann is a determined lady. I wrote about her business, Be Well Massage, two years ago. It was an interesting story showing her perseverance to achieve goals and create the life she wanted for herself and her daughter. Recently I saw Lael at a meeting to discuss Landrum’s future. She shared with me her own plans for the future to complement her successful massage business.

Today I’m meeting with Lael to hear about her new business. “I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years,” she tells me. “I want to open a market, really a local market carrying as many local products as possible, kind of in the style and ambience of Fresh Market. Then the space next to Be Well came available and I knew it was now or never,” she smiles. 

Lael Dann

I know from my past interview that when Lael decides on something, she does it. We discuss her drive and confidence to go forward with her plans.

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“Years ago when I was in school, I was taking an accounting course. I had been good at math up until high school when that part of my brain just seemed to shut off. I was failing accounting and on the verge of dropping the course so it wouldn’t pull my grade average down. I discussed my options with my professor. ‘Just do it,’ he advised. I was puzzled by this advice and just kept thinking about what he meant,” she laughs.

“Well, finally the light bulb came on. If I put my mind to it and was determined enough, I could do it. And I did. I passed with the second highest grade in the class. And that started me on my quest. If I want something, I have to ‘just do it.’ ”

We discuss some of the products that she hopes to carry. “I’ll be carrying Sun Ray vitamins. They go through extreme testing to assure quality control and I had to prove to them that I would be the type of vendor they want carrying their product.

“Then I’ll have natural and organic meat, eggs, cheeses, locally roasted coffee, teas in bulk. I’m in the midst of sourcing local, organic produce, dips, and sauces. I’ll offer Frontier herbs and spices. I’ll have some personal skin care products like soaps and lotions. And we’ll have ‘grab and go’ snacks and cold drinks.”

She continues, “This store will be for everyone. It’s about healthy living plus supporting local farmers and artisans. Organic will be important and I want to offer things you can’t necessarily find at the grocery stores. You’ll be able to purchase a cup of coffee to enjoy while you’re shopping. When I attended the Plan Landrum meetings, one of the speakers mentioned that small specialty shops do well in this type of small, town environment. This encouraged me to go ahead with my plans when I knew the space would be available.”

“I’ve always had a garden,” Lael explains. “I remember the first vegetable that I saw growing. It was cabbage. It was like a gift that God puts there. You take care of it and it will be there for you. It’s not mass produced.”

I inquire about the name she plans to use. She’s still researching and trying the name out on friends and family. “I think it will be ‘Local Yocal.’ It’s catchy and  conveys the sense of what I’m doing. And I like the spelling of ‘yocal’ to match ‘local.’ I found that online.” I tell her I love the name. It feels country, local, and fun.

Lael’s new shop will be adjacent to Be Well Massage in the Prince Gas Plaza, at 1506 E. Rutherford St. There will be a pass through entrance into the new shop. It will be easy for customers patronizing one business to visit the other business. One important aspect of this location is the parking. “I have plenty of parking here. Plus, shoppers on their way to the local grocery stores can stop off on their way to or from those shops.”

We chat about her massage business for a few minutes. I notice on her sign that  she has added two therapists, Linda and Tatiana.

“Yes,” she says. “We now do hot stones, reflexology, and aromatherapy in addition to massage that we previously offered. And we’re open Monday through Saturday. The new shop will also be open those days. We start the build out early June and should be open right after July 4.

Being a commercial business, her suppliers all have to comply with state and local regulations. If you are an organic grower or have products that fit into the local vision of a market that Lael is striving for, or if you need to inquire about or schedule a massage, Lael can be reached at 864-357-4719.