Our Story

John Mastel made up his mind to open a health food store in the mid-1960s, after experiencing several long illnesses. Convinced he'd exhausted all the options provided by conventional medicine, a gravely ill John picked up the holistic how-to manual You Can Change Your Life, and resolved to do just that.

On December 9th, 1968, Mastel's Health Foods opened its doors near the corner of Fairview and Saint Clair Avenues in Saint Paul, Minnesota. John recruited a tight crew of fellow health enthusiasts to run the shop during the day so he could continue his job at the Highway Department. He devoted himself to the shop on evenings and weekends.

"When people asked me why I started the store, I said, 'to improve my health.'" But that's only part of the story. John quickly developed a symbiotic relationship with his clientele. "My customers were a thrill!" he said, "They inspired me to be better, gave me pointers, and shared their experiences." John gained as much from them as they did from the store.

Long before the wellness industry exploded, John earned a reputation for staying abreast of cutting-edge nutritional news and advocating for access to the best supplements on the market. John devoted prolonged personal attention to every customer. His attentive ear and vast knowledge base earned him a loyal following that holds steady to this day.

Business gained momentum through the 1970s, attracting folks within a 40-mile radius. In 1977, John quit his day job to work at the shop full time. That same year, he decided to move Mastel's up the street to its present location at 1526 Saint Clair Avenue. With 50% more space, the new venue created room for more products and made for a more comfortable shopping experience. At the turn of the century, John phased into retirement while maintaining ownership of the business.

In March of 2023, John sold Mastel's to the two employees that were the management team at the store for the last several years; Lauren Gaffney and Alina Hornfeldt. Lauren and Alina have a shared passion for the health and wellness industry, and a strong desire to keep Mastel's the same trusted community resource it has been for decades. Lauren has worked at the purchasing manager and general manager for the last 20 years, and Alina as the marketing manager for the last 6. Friends since 2005, they have a dynamic partnership that keeps Mastel's vital and prospering. Today Mastel's boasts a knowledgeable and caring staff who is committed to upholding John's governing philosophy: Good health extends beyond oneself when you share your knowledge and resources with others.

With over 4,000 products on the shelves and a mail order service that extends its client base by thousands of miles, Mastel's Health Foods keeps apace with a booming industry while retaining its dedication to superior products and personalized service just as John intended at the outset- over 50 years ago



Art Scraps/Art Start
American Red Cross
Community Driven Foodshare Program
Herbalists Without Borders
Alaffia Eyeglasses Drive & Donation, Togo, Africa
Mashkiikii Gitigan Community Garden, Minneapolis, MN
Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, St. Paul, MN
North Country Herbalist Guild, MN
First Nations Food Kitchen, Minneapolis, MN
And many more!