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Blue Spruce Closing its doors

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Evergreen losing unique specialty-foods market

By Vicky Gits

 

After three years, it’s “gut-wrenching” for Carol Miller to say goodbye to the business that became an extension of herself, Blue Spruce Market. “It just feels like a part of me is going away,” Miller said. “I don’t want to tell you that this has been easy. But it boiled down to we didn’t get the foot traffic. I don’t know what else I could have done to get people’s attention. The economy hasn’t helped.” Blue Spruce, Evergreen’s only stand-alone gourmet market and café, sent an e-mail to customers last week saying the store’s last day in business would be March 21. The location behind Tanglewoods was something of a challenge, but the super-clean, hip and inviting interior, full of appealing cooking smells, made it hard to visit without buying something. “I’m going to miss the gourmet food I love so much,” said Gordon McLean, who has lived in Evergreen since 1984. “Evergreen has always had a hard time supporting local businesses … They come back up the hill and then they go home. It’s the same with restaurants and bars, The Wine Bar and Bleachers.” Miller and her husband, Seth, a former mutual-funds executive, opened the business in June 2006 in a newly built building between Tanglewoods Restaurant and Adams Plumbing in the shopping plaza off Bergen Parkway. The market stands out for its vast selection of fresh, prepared foods like meatloaf, rockfish, squash puree, green beans and almonds, grilled vegetables, and mozzarella and tomato salad. Everything is prepared from fresh ingredients on site. The chef makes special sandwiches at lunch, and the shelves were stocked with grass-fed beef, gourmet jam, coffee, chocolate, pasta, olive oil and soup with exotic labels. The market is among several well-known businesses to call it quits since the first of the year, including Bleachers Casual Clothing and Albertsons. Last year the community lost Stroh’s, Tanglewoods Restaurant, New Shanghai, Supper Solutions and BMC West as the down economy took hold. “We did months and months of research on the demographics and discovered that Evergreen was packed with people who were specialty-food consumers,” Miller said. But the store never produced the hoped-for level of sales. “You have to be realistic,” she said. “Do you want to continue to limp along and eke out a living? I want a thriving, vibrant business.” Miller is grateful to the loyal customers who supported the store from day one. “We got to know them on a daily basis. We knew how many tacos they wanted and whether they wanted mayonnaise.” Customers appreciated that personal service. “We can pick up a meal of enchiladas, stroganoff or meatloaf. They have sushi-quality tuna,” said Lori Endsley, who came in once a week. “My husband is really going to miss it. He comes in for lunch every day.” Donna Acquilano said she bought all her chickens at Blue Spruce because the butcher cut them up exactly the way she likes them. A frequent shopper, Acquilano said she couldn’t sleep on a recent night because she was thinking about the market closing. “The second to third year is the hardest,” said Acquilano, who owns a small business in Denver with her husband and lives in Evergreen. “We will miss this place terribly. If only everyone would come in more.”    Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com.