Alfalfa's Market isn’t slated to open in Longmont until fall, but the future site of the Boulder-born grocer isn’t quiet this summer.
The market’s home in the Parkway Promenade shopping plaza on Ken Pratt Boulevard is undergoing a remodeling effort as staff works to keep the opening date as close as possible to early September as it initially projected.
So far, the schedule has only slipped a bit. An early to mid-fall opening date isn’t out of the question, and the store almost certainly will be open by the holidays, according to company management.
A hiring fair to fill approximately 70 jobs is tentatively scheduled for summer. The date, when announced, might provide the clearest idea of how close Alfalfa’s is to setting out the welcome mat.
Recent discussions during a hardhat tour of the space formerly occupied by Lucky’s Market offered a sense of how the store will operate as a part of the community.
Newly hired store director Ericka Kiser said one of the store’s main focus areas will be providing easy access to locally minded food, and staff are researching specific vendors for items such as eggs, produce, tortillas and flour.
”We want shoppers to have a sense of adventure when they come in. Hopefully, they’ll find things they bring home will open their family up to something that’s completely different,” Kiser said.
Longmont-area vendors who would like to showcase products are welcome to reach out through the company’s vendor portal on the bottom of its website. When the store opens, they can pitch products to managers in person.
While the store will provide micro-niche products, selection will broaden into other categories at a variety of price points.
“There’s one kind of milk we carry, it comes from Hawaii, and it’s a super-premium organic milk” said John Gengel, director of store performance. “It sells really well in Boulder, but we don’t know how a milk of that style will do here. We’re stocking other brands to give people options.”
The store also will carry culturally focused brands and everyday items.
Longmont resident and mother to a high schooler and a college freshman, Joanne Kirves knows what she wants the store to bring to town. “We used to shop at Lucky’s and I’m hoping it’s something similar. Our family loved the seafood department, coffee, cheese and fresh produce.”
Culinary offerings will be overseen by Food & Wine’s 1999 Best New Chef winner James Mazzio. He came to Alfalfa’s after working throughout Colorado, including at Kitchen restaurants in Aspen and Boulder. He also may be part of store events once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Another step the store will take to connect locally is to run several programs that benefit Longmont nonprofits. In one initiative, it plans to donate food to the OUR Center, similar to how the company’s Boulder and Louisville locations donate a combined 26,000 pounds of food to nonprofit food programs each year.
In a second initiative, the Longmont location will make micro-donations to local charities, such as the Longmont Community Justice Partnership, under a store-specific program. It also will donate to area schools and host a round-up cash register program that funds a charity suggested by customers. Alfalfa’s is looking for ideas for nonprofits to support through its programs. Those with suggestions should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both Kiser and Gengel talked about COVID-19’s impact on store operations once it opens. It will feature a dedicated driver pickup lane and a delivery service. Some functions, including the hot bar and salad bar, as well as sampling and community events, won’t be offered when it opens. Those will be rolled out when the timing is right.
Regardless of how and when the store opens, shoppers are interested. As Kirves said, “We want other options, not just the big guys.”