Port Townsend resident Mike Marston checks out of Aldrich’s Market on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, with barista and cashier Sarah Marx. The 125-year-old store reopened Saturday after closing in early spring and after being bought by new owners who renovated the business over the summer. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend resident Mike Marston checks out of Aldrich’s Market on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, with barista and cashier Sarah Marx. The 125-year-old store reopened Saturday after closing in early spring and after being bought by new owners who renovated the business over the summer. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Aldrich’s Market reopens with local connections

New owners grow partnerships with several producers

PORT TOWNSEND — ‘Big, beautiful’ are the most common descriptions from customers of Aldrich’s Market since its soft reopening on Saturday, a co-owner said.

The 125-year-old market was closed in early spring and then was purchased by Ligtenberg siblings Rachel, 51, Christa, 52, and Yos, 49, who spent the summer renovating it.

Located at 940 Lawrence St. in uptown Port Townsend and open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the historic market now has a coffee bar, fresh baked pastries, grocery items, organic produce, sushi and a diverse selection of wine, beer and spirits, as well as socially distanced table seating.

Business has been steady since the soft opening Saturday, Yos said.

The store is about 75 percent stocked, he added this week.

So far, he said the feedback from customers has been positive.

“The response from the community has been fantastic,” Yos Ligtenberg said. “It seems that we’ve created a place the community is enjoying.”

The siblings employ 31 people at the store, with at least a dozen being former Aldrich’s employees, Yos said.

The market carries a variety of items offered through partnerships with several local producers such as Admiralty Distillers, Red Dog Farm and Cold Mountain Baking.

“Tons of local, talented people curate a nice experience in the store,” Yos said.

The first thing people see walking into Aldrich’s Market now is a wine and vodka display that is a collaboration between Aldrich’s, Port Townsend Vineyard and Admiralty Distillers to celebrate the 125-year-old history of Aldrich’s Market. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

The first thing people see walking into Aldrich’s Market now is a wine and vodka display that is a collaboration between Aldrich’s, Port Townsend Vineyard and Admiralty Distillers to celebrate the 125-year-old history of Aldrich’s Market. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

While all three siblings have several years of business experience, they have not run a grocery store before, so it’s been a learning process as they set up the market.

“It was a much larger undertaking than we assumed,” Yos said. “It’s quite the machine that needs a lot of attention to handle.

“It takes an amazing team, and we’ve compiled one.”

In honor of the store’s 125th anniversary, Aldrich’s has partnered with Admiralty Distillers and Port Townsend Vineyard to offer a special vodka and wines that are on sale for $18.95 — the store first opened in 1895 — with $1.25 from each bottle sale going to the Jefferson Land Trust, Yos said.

The siblings said they try to have one of them at the store at all times, with Yos there almost every day.

Christa, who also is an emergency room nurse at Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend, and Rachel, a business consultant, are at the store three to four days a week, their brother said.

“We think it’s very important to have an owner on site,” he said.

The open layout of the store was driven by COVID-19 protocols, but Yos believed it worked to their advantage, saying it feels more inviting and offers plenty of room for social distancing between shoppers.

The Ligtenbergs are still working on expanding and filling the grocery store shelves, and they have other ideas and projects for improving the store, such as a fresh-squeezed juice bar, Yos said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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