A beloved Port Townsend institution will live on with new owners, as the Fukuda family is to hand over the reins of Aldrich’s Market to Scott Rogers and his wife, Robin, by Feb. 1.
“We are just the new caretakers of this place,” Scott said of the Uptown grocery store. “Honestly, we were not looking for this, but when we figured out what a huge part of the community this place was, we realized what a loss it would be if it went away.”
“We’re very lucky to be able to do this,” said Robin, who had gently cajoled her husband into considering his real estate agent’s recommendation that they look into buying the store.
The two want to reassure Port Townsend that their preexisting business, Dogs-A-Foot, would continue, even if they wouldn’t necessarily remain at the helm.
“We seem to have a penchant for Port Townsend icons,” Scott said. “Dogs-A-Foot can never go away. If we find someone to sell it to, they’ll keep it going. If we don’t, it’ll reopen in late March.”
The two apologized for keeping their customers and neighbors in the dark for so long, but they’d wanted to present “the complete picture” of what was going on before offering public comment.
“Ironically, we wound up creating more of the sort of uncertainty that we’d hoped to avoid in the first place,” Scott said, as he echoed Robin’s praise to the Fukuda family for making the transition as seamless as possible.
“Milt [Fukuda] and his family have done so much for this community,” Robin said. “It’s great that they’re giving us this wonderful store and staff to work with.”
Scott sees the “community feel” of Aldrich’s Market as among its greatest assets.
“It’s a community gathering place,” Scott said. “For many people, it anchors the whole uptown, which is something we’d like to assure them will continue.”
Robin noted the number of families that have brought multiple generations of children to the store, “and all the kids for whom Aldrich’s was their first shopping trip on their own.” She touted the store’s popular selections, ranging from soft-serve ice cream to fresh orange juice, and promised that the annual gingerbread house contest would return to the store this year.
“We’ve inherited wonderful produce and deli sections, as well as a fine selection of wine and beer,” Robin said. “Plus, we have an amazing sushi bar on the second floor that not everyone knows about.”
Beyond that, the Rogerses are content to take the pulse of the store and “feel the flow” before they even think about making any changes.
“We’ve just moved into a new home here, so we’re still seeing what works,” Scott said. “Whatever the community wants us to do is what we’ll be guided by. We have folks who come here for coffee every day. You get to see everyone here eventually. It’s a wonderful cast of characters.”
Indeed, while Scott and Robin spoke to The Leader, Florence Caplow and Chris Herold traded tales of their younger years over steaming paper cups of coffee.
“I must come by here at least once a month,” said Caplow, a minister with Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. “You can always find a nice, quiet spot to nestle in. I think the whole town would have been in mourning if they’d closed this place.”
Herold has lived here long enough to remember when Aldrich’s Market suffered a fire in 2003 — a news story in The Leader that, as he was talking, he realized was posted on the wall behind his head.
And while Dave Pavlicek made sushi on the upper floor level, Jim Goldberg made himself a house salad and picked up some choice cuts of meat from butcher Andy Crawford on the ground floor.
“I love their house salad,” Goldberg said. “Their meat is great, because I can get cuts that aren’t totally fat free if I want. To me, it doesn’t have the right taste if it’s totally fat free.”
Kathy Backman was right in line behind him at the checkout, as Thomas Headley rang up their purchases.
“I remember when Mr. Aldrich used to sit up on the top floor there,” Backman said, pointing to the observation floor where Scott and Robin Rogers were reviewing the store’s paperwork. “They always had the coolest stuff here. This is a very special place. I love it.”