It is the end of an era for Snowmass Village Market

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
A sign at the entrance of the Village Market in Snowmass says it all on the last day of operation for grocery store.
Michael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

For 35 years, Village Market has been a part of the Snowmass Village culture. On Saturday at 8 p.m., the grocery store, an institution in the Snowmass Center, shut its doors for the last time.

Related Colorado, the company that owns the property where the market is located, did not renew Village Market lease and chose Clark’s Market to replace the grocery store in a bidding process for the space.

Clark’s Market Snowmass is scheduled to open in late June or early July.

For Debbie Miller, the assistant manager at the Village Market, Saturday was bittersweet. She was obviously disappointed to be leaving the store after working there for 16 years, but she was also grateful for a chance to say goodbye to many customers she’s grown to know and call friends.

When Miller found out Village Market was closing, she said her life felt like it was contained in a snow globe and someone just shook it up.

“Today is our last day, and there’s going to be a lot of tears and hugs,” she said. “I’m going to really miss the people here. I can always work for another grocery store, but replacing these friendships is another story.”

As Miller talked about the store, customer Tammy Barr stopped by and embraced Miller. Barr has shopped at the market for more than 20 years and teared up as she spoke with Miller.

“When my son, C.J., was a baby, he had such a big crush on Debbie (Miller),” Barr said. “I would have to stop by, even when I didn’t need groceries, just so C.J. could see Debbie. “

Barr said the way the employees would give customers personal attention and go the extra mile to help them was what made Village Market an extraordinary place to shop.

“There was one time when C.J. was still a toddler and he got very sick,” Barr said. “I was working, and I knew we were out of Motrin at home. It was late, and I called the Village Market, even though I knew they were closed. Someone answered and told me just to come by and they would give me some Motrin. When I drove up, they were waiting for me and just gave me the Motrin. I really do love the people that work here. I wish it never came to this.”

Checker Teresa Kelly said Saturday was a difficult day to stay focused as emotions ran high. Three generations of her family have worked for Village Market. One of the highlights of the 22 years she’s worked in Snowmass was having the opportunity to work side-by-side with her son at the market.

“Change is inevitable, but it’s painful sometimes,” Kelly said. “I know the Clarks are good people. Here in the village, we’re like family. There’s no animosity on my end, but this change still hurts.”

Many of the customers that stopped by the market on Saturday weren’t there just to take advantage of the 40-percent off all items that were left. Most bought something, but some just came by to say goodbye.

“I’ve been friends with many of the employees for more than 20 years,” said a longtime customer that didn’t want his name published. “The courtesy of the people that work here is about ten times what it is at Clark’s Market in Aspen.”

Customer Ann Larson has shopped at Village Market since 1980. She’s always enjoyed the variety of items the store offered but said it was the employees that made Village Market a unique and friendly experience.

“I come to this store because it’s a part of our community,” Larson said. “The employees here are like family. I don’t know anybody that’s happy about this. Most of the people I’ve talked to are somewhere between sad and devastated the store is closing.”

Village Market employee Glenn Drummond has worked at the store for ten years. He’s staying with the company and will soon begin work at the Edwards Village Market.

He’s happy to still have an opportunity to work for Village Market but wasn’t too pleased with how the whole situation played out with Clark’s taking over the space.

“I’m sad and angry how this all went down,” he said. “We still don’t know the real reason why Related chose Clark’s over Village Market, and we probably will never know.”

Norm Adams has worked at Village Market for six years and already has accepted a job to work at Clark’s Market Snowmass when it opens. Adams wasn’t happy to see Village Market close and hopes there’s a silver lining down the road.

“You can’t fight City Hall,” Adams said. “I’m hoping people like the new store and this turns into a positive for this community.