“If you are concerned about your health, come see us,” advises Howard Eley, co-owner with his brother Harold, of Granma T’s in Port Warwick. Both are certified natural health professionals.
Granma T is Theora Marx. Her grandchildren gave her the nickname because they couldn’t pronounce her name. Marx was an assistant director of nurses at Eastern State Hospital for 17 years before developing ovarian cancer. After unsuccessfully trying the usual radiation therapy and other procedures, she began researching different approaches, such as Deepak Chopra’s holistic health movement. With changes in diet and lifestyle, she began to regain strength and recovered from the cancer. She decided to share her knowledge with others and opened a store on Warwick Boulevard in 1996.
The store offered healthy groceries and snacks, organic nutritional supplements and bath and natural beauty products. Granma T herself provided personal and private consultations. Her advice was meant to augment the physician’s diagnosis. Appealing to the new generation that is more aware of healthy habits, Granma T’s empowers individuals to become active participants in the prevention of illness and maintenance of wellness through a holistic approach to life.
Harold and Howard Eley are retired from their main careers and operate the store part time. The Port Warwick store opened in 2005. Howard is retired from the Army. He moved here from Northern Virginia and worked 22 years in Newport News Public Schools. He is now part time with the Newport News Police Department (NNPD) and plays in the NNPD Pipes and Drums Band.
Harold was with the Chicago Police Department prior to relocating to Newport News. He completed his career with the Newport News Police Department. He is also involved with the NNPD Pipes and Drums.
Granma T herself has retired but often visits the store. She enjoys chatting with customers. She hopes they will share their concerns and allow her to provide counseling. The brothers also invite anyone to come by with questions. “We have pared down the inventory and put in more seats — even a rocking chair,” says Howard. “The store is a family affair. Family members ‘chip in’ and help when needed.”
“We have a lot of young customers,” says Harold. “Also military customers,” he adds. “Many are long-time customers. We were one of the first businesses in Port Warwick.”
Granma T’s has its own made-to-order smoothies. ‘We call it ‘smoothie santé,’” says Howard. The “santé” is a reference to “health.” It has no ice, no dairy, no added sugar and a “kiss” of cayenne pepper. “There are a number of ‘health keto desserts,’” adds Harold.
“Health foods have a lot of flavor,” says Harold. ‘It’s great to eat sweets and snacks with no guilt!” One interesting item is “Fig Newmans” by Paul Newman’s company. “We are not competing with prescriptions. We also promote local businesses and their products. Some are definitely unique,” he adds.
In their free time: “I love the West Coast,” says Howard, “especially San Diego. I also go to Atlanta a lot because my children are there. My favorite assignment in the military was in Germany. And I enjoy playing golf.”
“I enjoy fishing,” says Harold. “I have some favorite ‘hidden spots’ all over the Peninsula,” he adds. His children are in North Carolina and Florida; he has five grandchildren.
“Our business is not just a store; it is a mission,” says Howard. Granma T’s seeks to maintain or restore health with the proper mix of nutrition, herbs and education.