When Crystal River Meats’ Carbondale retail store closed down, Terri Anzini found herself without a job, and many locals found themselves wondering where to get certain farm-to-table products that weren’t available at City Market or the Carbondale Food Co-Op. Meanwhile, Gandhi Indian Cuisine on Highway 133 was looking to downsize its space. In October, an idea took shape.
“It just kinda all fell together,” said Anzini. She bought Crystal River Meats’ old equipment and rented the room Gandhi vacated.
“Within seven days I went from not having a job to owning a store,” she recalled.
The Annex opened in January with a literal meat-and-potatoes inventory. Spring and summer have added an array of fresh, local produce to the selection. Despite construction along the highway, sales have grown month over month, and Anzini has gone from a one-woman show to overseeing three employees.
“I got into it not expecting to make a profit. We’re just here for the cause,” Anzini said. “I saw a niche that needed to be filled in the valley: a store where families could come and afford real food.”
Anzini keeps her prices low by buying directly from farms. She tries not to tread on the Food Co-Op’s toes by stocking different brands, and has a laundry list of partners, including Bottoms Up in Paonia, Early Morning Orchard in Palisade, Happy Hogs in Montrose and Milagro Beef in Carbondale.
The Annex also sells produce to local restaurants and is the pickup point for several raw milk community-supported agriculture groups.
It’s important for the community to support local agriculture, Anzini said.
“We’re relying on other countries to feed us,” she observed.
The local approach means a seasonal selection.
“We’re used to getting whatever we want whenever we want it,” said Anzini. “When you eat on a 100-mile diet, the weather has a big impact. I don’t try to have everything.”
The store has new products in all the time, and a lot of the old favorites are in high demand. Bacon and eggs sell out every week, and produce shopping can be competitive, too.
“I will challenge anyone to find a better tomato,” said Anzini.
The Annex’s selection is available on its website, www.thecarbondaleannex.com. It also provides weekly delivery from Carbondale to Aspen for just $10, but most folks prefer to come into the store. Anzini is thinking of offering a special variety basket with option add-ons to drive interest in the program.
If all goes well in the long run, she’s even hoping to add a local food restaurant to the mix to give folks a healthier $6 lunch.
The Annex is located at 1054 Highway 133 in Carbondale, and is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..