The Market serves as food producer stepping stone
Like any other grocery store in America, The Market at Park City sells its fair share of French’s Yellow Mustard and Coca-Cola. But that is not all the independently-owned grocery store sells, with more than 1,000 varieties of locally-made, hand-crafted products on its shelves the same variety of foods lining folding tables in summer farmers markets.
Whether customers are looking for Wanship-based jalapeno jam company Pepperlane Products or the in-house breads baked daily by the Red Bicycle Breadworks, the Market at Park City has gone above and beyond in promoting what local businesses are selling. Scattered along the entrance and lining the ends of rows, locally produced products range from gluten-free flour to doggie treats.
"For us, it’s about finding a niche," said Mike Holm, the store owner. "We’re independent and we’re able to give back to the community. Most grocery stores cannot just go and pick something up at the farmers market, but we can."
"After the farmers markets are over and winter is here, people don’t always know where to get those products anymore," he added. "But they can get them here."
The store was originally built in 1996 as Dan’s Market, but later sold to Associated Foods. It was sold again in 2009 to Holm, its current owner. After losing the corporate strings, Holm said he was able to break out of the box, a competitive edge in a market consisting of six other grocery stores.
Since it was built, four more grocery stores have joined the ranks in Park City, making the area what Holm called a "saturated market." With two Associated Foods, a Whole Foods, a Walmart and a Smith’s Grocery Store, Holm said the business had to do something unique to attract locals and tourists alike.
"Department heads are allowed to purchase their own items," said Rush Hotchkiss, the grocery manager. "Instead of ordering from a typical warehouse, we can go out and recruit local businesses. We started doing that two years ago."
The first company the Market at Park City brought in from the farmers market was Pop Art, a line of gourmet popcorn that include flavors such as rosemary truffle and Thai coconut curry.
"When vendors try to get into corporate stores, they have to go through all these hoops, sometimes paying big money for space," Hotchkiss added. "Start-up businesses just don’t have that kind of money."
Beyond scouring farmers markets for the next big thing, the Market at Park City is also introducing new services, including a new chef on staff that will offer ready-to-go meals and entrees. The grocery store recently completed a kitchen renovation where foods from braised ribs to hearty lasagna will be available. With the new chef, the market will be adding new cheeses flown directly from Europe and Cremenelli meats from Salt Lake City.
"Everything is ready-to-go," Holm said. "You just take it home, heat it and you’ve got a gourmet meal."
"After going to the farmers market and talking with (people), I started working on an idea," he added. "People are always waiting in between seasons, so I’ve been thinking over the past few months how to get names out there. Even if the farmers markets are not going on, they can still get the products."
Next month, the store plans to host a mini-farmers market day where nearly two dozen local purveyors and customers will be face-to-face, introducing products and sampling.
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Beerman said he is aware of landlords offering relief of some sort, but he also acknowledged the landlords earn a living off the rents they collect.