If you lived in Boulder during the 1980s, you went to Market for more than just healthy groceries, you went for a social, political event as well. It was the mid-1980s and the little health food shop turned grocery store was a happening place in Boulder. With each move and expansion, it shook off its dusty hippie ambiance evolving into a bright, clean shopping trip for the senses. It was alive. To this day I don’t think I’ve entered a grocery store with quite the same exuberance. Not only were shoppers delighted to take in a cooking demo or drool at the overflowing gourmet-meets-natural deli items (remember, this was the 1980s so these offerings were pretty cutting edge), but the employees were empowered and lively—the Boulder band Leftover Salmon titled a song “I want to work at Alfalfa’s”. Store events like live music and fundraisers became parking lot parties.
Eventually the store was merged with Wild Oats and, well, things changed. The store grew quiet.
Things are changing again and “Alf’s” will be locally owned (it is currently a Whole Foods) once more. Original founder Mark Retzloff, along with Barney Feinblum and Hugo van Seenus are taking back the reigns of Boulder’s original naturals store. It will be interesting to watch and see if this threesome can capture the spirit of community and unique inspiring flavor that was Alfalfa’s. I hope so.