In 1986, Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods was created, small and beloved. Eventually, though, the natural foods community of Ojai was asking for more. In 1996, Mary Trudeau of Ojai and Ernest Niglio from New York joined forces to buy and regenerate Rainbow Bridge. As Mary understood the needs of the Ojai Valley population, Ernest brought more than 20 years of experience in the health food industry to the partnership.
While creating, designing and managing the highly successful Back to the Land natural foods store in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, Ernest had been living there with his family. But he and his wife, Mariann, wanted their children raised in a more wholesome environment. After a serendipitous phone call to Oak Grove School, founded by renowned educator Jiddu Krishnamurti, Ernest connected with Mary, whose young daughter, Sarah, was in preschool there.
Soon after Mary took her first trip to Brooklyn to meet Ernest, he and his family moved to Ojai to revive and create the new Rainbow Bridge. For almost 20 years, this duo has worked together to keep up with the evolving natural food industry, with its latest evolution as the Village Marketplace. This unique community gathering place offers clean natural foods, baked goods, a cafe, pet shop, and curated textiles and merchandise—all under one management yet under many roofs.
Rainbow Bridge started in 1986 in a small section of what had once been Vans Markets. Unknown to the owners of Rainbow Bridge, a beautiful, cedar-lined ceiling was hidden above the drop ceiling. When Mary and Ernest saw through the rafters the beautiful building that was hiding behind wires and paint, they decided that the market needed to be restored to its original glory. So in 2002, they undertook an enormous renovation that doubled the size of the small market and restored it to the same size as the original Vans Markets of Ojai.