It all began in the fall of 1990. After the arrival of my son, Tristan, I was looking for part-time work and was offered an opportunity to lease a small grocery business. The idea was intriguing and I remember thinking to myself, “how hard can that be?” I’ll work a little, check in on the staff and spend most of my time being a mother. It’s perfect!” Well, I was a little bit optimistic about all that. Before I knew it I was working full time placing orders, stocking shelves, sweeping floors and taking care of the bookkeeping while trying to keep my head above water. It wasn’t long before I realized that a downtown location would really be the ticket if I wanted to see significant growth. I knew I wanted to add a cafe of some sort, offering espresso, baked goods, soups and sandwiches. All I needed was the right place. Coincidentally, at that time a large building stood empty on the corner of 3rd and Haines Highway. After a suggestion from my friend Debra and with her help, we put together a business plan, secured local investors and bought that old building. There was a bit of a catch – this was an old gas station built around 1957 and, as you can imagine, this translated into removing gas pumps, cleaning up contaminated soil, scrubbing layers of grease off the walls and floors, so to speak, taking down gigantic garage doors, lots of remodeling along the way and years of “soil remediation” to follow.
The first year we only managed to utilize one qaurter of the space in our big old building, offering a still small selection of grocery items and natural foods. The second year I put in an espresso machine at the counter and that helped the business turn the corner to growth. Next, Debra and I made six sandwiches at a friend’s commercial kitchen and, with some trepidation, placed them in the pop cooler next to the check out counter. Another jump in growth. And so it went. Since then we have slowly remodeled the rest of the building and expanded our offerings. Somewhere along the way, the business became mine and now I run it along with my husband, Mike, and together, we continue to improve the business and fix up the old building. Today Mountain Market features a cafe; a full selection of natural and organic foods, produce, supplements and health and beauty aids; a wine, beer and spirits shop and our coffee roasting business, Ripinsky Roasters. Travelers say they only wish we had gas and then we would have it all. When we hear that we just smile and tell them they don’t know how funny that is to us.
Through all this, Tristan pretty much grew up at Mountain Market and is officially the longest standing employee other than myself. When he’s home from college, he bakes, cooks, cashiers, and helps out with repairs. Logan, the newest addition to the family, is learning the many ways he can score a snack in the café and growing like the proverbial weed. He’s already pitching in a little (or creating trouble) and we suspect that before we know it, he’ll be behind the counter, too!What a ride this has been! We would not be where we are today without the love and support of friends and the patronage of the community and many visitors. From our family to yours, a heartfelt thanks for making Mountain Market a thriving fixture in Haines!