Carbondale’s Dandelion Market sprouts in new spot
Carbondale’s local and organic food co-op, the Dandelion Market, is officially reopened after a near-death experience.
A grand reopening celebration Saturday at its new location at Sopris Avenue and Colorado 133 featured music, a potluck lunch, game and activities like a group effort to build new bike racks out of pallets.
Dandelion Market is now at 1310 Colorado 133, where the owners of Rhumba Girl Liquors made some room in their building to save the market.
Early this year the co-op board and management announced that the property owner of their Main Street location would not be renewing the lease, and Dandelion needed to find a new home by July.
At the same time, the co-op’s leaders were trying to recover from a history of fuzzy record-keeping and a backlog of debt to vendors. The board eventually had to let the general manager and its staffers go.
After several months of fruitless searching, it appeared that Dandelion Market was about to lose its lease without anywhere to go. But at the last minute the owners of Rhumba Girl stepped in and offered space starting at a deeply discounted rent.
The market has been open in its new location since Aug. 16, but it’s just now had a grand reopening to allow enough time to fully fill the space and get on its feet.
“It’s taken about a month to put it all together, but we are operating as hoped now,” said Terri Anzini, the market’s new manager. She is a local farmer and experienced organic grocer who people might recognize from Carbondale’s First Friday farmers markets and other farmers markets in the valley.
“She’s well organized and knows how to run a market,” said Eirca Sparhawk, the board member who saw the market through its rough period this year.
The co-op’s board is also back up to the five members mandated by its bylaws, though the board had dwindled to only a couple of members earlier this year.
The full board has recently been meeting weekly to get ready for the opening. “And we’ve had a fantastic number of volunteers to help cover shift, which helps us keep costs low,” said Sparhawk.
“Terri has done a great job filling the store with produce from around the region and the products our customers rely on the market to carry,” said Sparhawk. “We want to celebrate the fact that we are now fully up and running and let people know where we are located.”
The market also now has a point of sale system so it can track sales and inventory.
“That will help us manage inventory, operate on a tight budget and fill the store with more items our customers are requesting,” said Sparhawk. “We also need to thank our landlords Beth and Matt Maun, who own the building and Rhumba Girl Liquor. They really made it easy and possible for us to relocate.”
At about 600 square feet, the new space is more of a squeeze than the last location. Though the new Dandelion Market is only about a-third the size of the old Main Street location, it’s easy to find everything the market has to offer and the location is drawing new customers, said Sparhawk.
Farms in the region are in high production season, so the market’s produce selection is very good right now, said Sparhawk. “We’ve got everything from peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, as well as fruits like apples, pears and melons.”
Lately, Anzini has been making foods like homemade salsa from the tomatoes and pickles in the store.
The market has also been able to connect with local ranchers to get lamb, pork and beef in stock.
Coming this far after the co-op’s future looked so questionable during the summer, Sparhawk said the market has seen some incredible support. “I think people didn’t realize how much they were going to miss the co-op until it was gone. So we’ve just had lot of support and appreciation from community members and co-op members.
“Once we have a stable income we’ll be able to start setting up payment plans with our vendors,” she added. “We hope to get those payments started later this fall and winter.”
Dandelion Market is now open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.