Mr. T’s Health Store still thriving after decades serving area

Published 12:30 am Sunday, February 27, 2022

NEDERLAND — Maria Rangel knows a thing or two about health supplements — and she should, as first an employee then owner of Mr. T’s Health Store in Nederland.

Rangel brought out a bottle of N-Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC for short. This product is one of the many sought after supplements with a lengthy list of benefits. Another is Cellfood, which is taken to oxygenate and feed cells, and has an antioxidant effect, she explained.

And there’s more, much more.

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Rangel learned the trade as she worked there and ups her knowledge with books. In fact, if you have a question and the folks there don’t have an answer, they can find one or direct you to the stack of supplement books on site.

The first Mr. T’s was opened in Temple, Texasm in 1967 and is named after the original owner, Mr. Tallasak. Betty Derese and Joye Dyer worked there and later bought out Tallasak.

Brenda Derese, niece of the two women, said the first local location was on Gulfway Drive in Port Arthur, where it operated for decades. Then came the move to Nederland Avenue in the early 2000s.

Rangel came on scene in 2003 and learned all about the many products that help people get and stay healthy. She took over the business in 2014.

A woman named Ms. Debbie was busy behind the counter filling plastic baggies with nuts and other such snacks recently. She said she occasionally comes in and helps when needed.

“It’s a lot to take in but you now what, it’s exciting, it really is,” Debbie said. “Helping people stay healthy, get healthy and I ask them ‘what you need that for’ because I might be having that same problem, maybe neuropathy or reflux, and we get to talking about it.”

For Debbie, working at the store is a way to help others and glean knowledge.

“And you meet some neat people coming through, especially if you’ve been here years and years,” she said. “You’ve got people, family names that come through. This is a legend, this place is a legend.”

Brenda Derese, an employee at the shop, said they are proud that generations of families visit the health store.

“So many people come in and say ‘my mom and dad used to go to the one on Gulfway and it’s an honor for Maria to just be able to serve generations of family,” Derese said.

Near the front counter in the shop is a table with an encyclopedia of supplements. Rangel flipped to a page where, highlighted in yellow, is information about NAC featuring beneficial uses as well as warnings for those who should not take the supplement.

“The books help a lot,” Rangel said of when a customer has a question about a product or issue they are not familiar with. “We look to the books.”

Derese made a quick tour around the room highlighting some of the different products in demand. Colloidal Silver, she said, aids in a long list of ailments from sore throat and sinus infections, to ear infections, nail fungal infections to burns.

There’s the aloe vera products to be ingested for stomach issues to lotions and shampoos.

Yoder’s Good Health Recipe is an Amish product the store has carried for more than 50 years, Derese said. It contains apple cider vinegar, fruit juices and 14 herbs and spices.

The product has a prominent place near the front of the store.

When a local clinic began distributing a flyer with a list of supplements recommended to boost immune function in non-pregnant adults, Mr. T’s took note and made sure they had the listed supplements, some of which include NAC, zinc, Quercetin and various vitamins.

Rangel notes in her product selection she seeks items not readily found in local grocery stores or pharmacies. One brand, Bluebonnet Nutritional Corporation, is based in Sugarland, she said.

She pointed out other bottles of products, noting the particular company uses amber glass, not plastic, to store the supplements — something she specifically looks for.

Mr. T’S Health Store, located at 2214 Nederland Ave. in Nederland, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays. They recently began being open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.