It is officially shoulder season in Telluride and Mountain Village.
The difference between the two places is Village residents and visitors have now been without a supermarket for more than a month. And that will continue to be the case through May 2020.
The Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA), the market’s landlord, sued The Market at Mountain Village in 2018, “citing market owner Darin Hill for failure to follow requirements outlined in his amended lease,” the Daily Planet reported in May of that year.
As TMVOA Executive Director Anton Benitez put it of complaints the association had been hearing about the market: “Their selection is limited and their prices are too high.”
The good news is, a new, bigger, better market is being completely reconstructed.
“The market basically closed (for rebuilding) Sept. 30,” Benitez said. “The amount of progress we’ve made” in little more than a month “is truly unbelievable.”
The market’s “footprint” will be expanded by what Benitez called “a bump-out” of 605 square feet, “similar to what you’d find at Whole Foods and other stores, where you can sit down and eat.”
“There’ll be a fireplace in it for the winter. Everything in the store will be new,” Benitez added. “It will be a complete upgrade.”
The new operator will be John Buxman Jr. “whose father ran the market in Telluride for years,” Benitez said. “When we first announced that the market will be closing, everyone was happy.” But the question quickly became, “Why aren’t you opening until May? Why is this taking so long?”
The answer, Benitez said, is that construction couldn’t have gone any faster.
“There’s been a complete demolition inside. The former owner took what he wanted” from the building, but left behind an older, soon-to-be-outdated refrigeration system.
“It’s not like we’re going to put a new operator in there with older stuff,” Benitez said.
The building’s re-do is literally from the ground up: “The concrete had to be cut,” Benitez said. “New piping, new layout. All-new hardware. New equipment.”
And, while the rebuild continues — the new store is scheduled to open May 30 — there are a few new grocery options.
Zoe Dohnal, business development and sustainability senior manager for the Town of Mountain Village, recently ticked through a few of them, adding that more are likely to be available as the season progresses.
For starters, “People can order groceries online from Clark’s Market” in Telluride.
As always, a variety of restaurants will be open in Mountain Village once ski season starts.
“The Rusty Rhino, a brick-and-mortar business, will be expanding its offerings,” Dohnal added. “And there will be new vending carts in the plaza this winter season. A number of great entrepreneurs will be stepping in to help.”
South’s Market, which delivers food items weekly to Telluride (and Ridgway) from Costco, is not only up and running, but offers a delivery option direct to local homes for an extra fee. There is no requirement to join Costco, nor is there a minimum order required (visit southsmarket.com to learn more). And the Sunshine Store in Mountain Village, owned by Karen and Stephen Hemphill (who also own the Sunshine Pharmacy in downtown Telluride), will also be stocking additional food items.
“It’s a little bit of a work in progress,” Karen Hemphill said. “We’re still trying to figure out what we can get, and can fit in” to the store in Mountain Village.
As it is, Hemphill plans to offer “ready-made snacks and drinks, like chips, granola bars, nuts, water, juices, and soda. And we also sell beer,” she said.
Sunshine also aims to stock “staples like milk, eggs, bacon, cheese, grab-and-go breakfasts and sandwiches.” During the busy season, “we hope to be open from at least 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and maybe even from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
As the winter progresses, likely more grocery options will become available.
“There was no ideal time” to undertake such an extensive reconstruction, Benitez acknowledged. For the next few months, when it comes to grocery shopping, he said frankly, “there’s going to be some inconvenience.”
He believes the wait, when the new market is unveiled next year, will be more than worth it.