‘A pretty nice guy’
David Clark likes people, and he likes food, so his job as store director of Clark’s Market in Aspen fits him well.
“I love it,” the 27-year-old Aspen and Basalt-area native said. “I get to work with very cool people. Locals are a lot of fun, too.
“It seems like a high school reunion just about every day.”
Clark has managed the store for almost a year now after working there for the previous two years, and he can do any of the many jobs necessary to keep the store running smoothly. But like many local business owners, one of his most challenging jobs is finding and keeping reliable, quality employees.
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“It’s difficult to find consistent workers,” he said. “Getting people to stay for a long time is tough.”
It was in pursuit of those efforts to retain good workers that found Clark in Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely’s courtroom one recent morning. One of his employees was having a few personal problems, and both the judge and the employee asked Clark to be there.
When Fernandez-Ely asked him to speak, Clark walked to the podium and told her he didn’t know about the employee’s personal life and would not judge him for it. But he said the full-time employee was one of his most valuable and always willing to do whatever Clark asked him to do.
Clark also told the judge that he would hold the employee’s job open for the time being while he attempts to work out his problems.
“You seem like a pretty nice guy,” Fernandez-Ely said to Clark after he spoke.
Later, Clark said that while it was the first time he’s appeared in court to support an employee, he doesn’t view it as an unusual step to take.
“He’s had a tough life,” Clark said of the employee. “He’s shown he wants to work hard and do better.
“People have personal issues, but they’re good people and good workers.”
Tom Clark — David’s father — opened Clark’s Market in 1978 in the same space it still occupies near the post office and across from Rio Grande Park. And except for a facelift in 2010, the grocery store has remained more or less the same for the past nearly 40 years.
However, that is about to change.
This offseason, Clark’s Market will close down for six to 12 weeks for a complete, multimillion-dollar renovation, he said.
“We’re going to turn it into a store we think this town deserves,” Clark said. “I’m very excited about it.”
With the new store, the emphasis will be on the bakery, deli and prepared foods, he said. That will include installing a brick pizza oven that will allow the store to offer another low-cost lunch option.
“We want to make this store the de facto destination for lunch,” Clark said. “There are so many opportunities to make really cool food.”
“As you can tell,” he said, pointing to his thick build, “I’m kind of a fan of food.”
The store closure will begin sometime between April 1 and April 4, and Clark hopes to be open again in June.
Clark lives on a ranch in the Basalt area with his wife and 5-year-old son, Liam. And while the Clark family operates markets in Crested Butte, Telluride, Battlement Mesa, Norwood and Blanding, Utah, he said he can’t imagine ever leaving the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Our whole immediate family all live within 30 minutes,” Clark said. “I love skiing. It’s hard to beat.”
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