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New Bridge Organic Market
9/17, free • Grand Opening celebration, music, food and shopping
708 New Bridge St., Jacksonville, NC

new bridge

FRESH AND PURE: Jacksonville’s new and only organic market. Photo by Joselyn McDonald

Wondering what kind of business model the soon-to-launch New Bridge Organic Market (NBOM) will be implementing? Perhaps it would help to know that proprietors Elizabeth and Dale Altman refer to each other as “Mom” and “Pop.” “This has been a dream of ours for some time—to open an organic local grocery,” Elizabeth tells.

Now that we are both retiring, we can do it. We are so tired of driving to Wilmington for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified) food.”

Hear, hear!

As a vegetarian native of Jacksonville, I know the 120-mile trek to and from Wilmington’s Tidal Creek Co-op all too well. While it feels great to stock up on Wilmington’s fresh local produce, organic fair trade coffee and whole grain goodies, no amount of organic chocolate can make Highway 17 feel less like a barren wasteland from a Cormac McCarthy saga.

Rumors have been rampant that the vacant, former Western Auto location in downtown was being reborn, but it seemed too good to be true. As any long-time resident of Jacksonville knows, taking stock in commercial murmurings can lead to heartbreak (stop holding your breath for that mall-based TGI Friday’s, people—it isn’t going to happen).

The New Bridge Organic Market (NBOM) is happening—in that it is opening and in that it’s a “happening” place. While discussing what the grocers will provide the community—local produce, prepared lunches, baked goodies, supplements and, eventually, healthy living classes held in-store—the still-unopened NBOM was inundated with calls and enthusiastic community members stopping by to learn more.

It appears that the people of Jacksonville are more than ready for a locally owned grocer in the downtown area. Local resident Jaclyn Lunger stopped in immediately. “This is so exciting!” she says. “Local is always better! There is a false assumption that people in Jacksonville don’t care about local or organic. It isn’t true.”

The 70 applications for employment the Altmans received within 24 hours of posting a “now hiring” ad in the classifieds have sent them mixed signals concerning the economy. Mrs. Altman chose to take it as a good sign that so many people want to work at the market.

“We’ve even had people asking us to just volunteer here!” she adds. In fact, one of the applicants arrived while I was touring the facilities last week. “Thank God you guys are doing this—finally, I can stop hauling our whole family to The Whole Foods in Raleigh.”

NBOM is looking just how it should. Mr. Altman, the consummate handyman, used recycled materials from demolished housing projects to construct the shelving and produce table. He also salvaged oak from the building to preserve a bit of its history. “He’s done most of this,” Elizabeth beams proudly. “He’s so talented.”

Supportive of one another in this new venture, Elizabeth was the original proprietor of the organic market. When Dale decided to retire, according to Elizabeth, “he joined in and made it so much better.”

What the entrepreneurs look forward to most after finally opening—refrigeration setbacks temporarily stalled forward momentum—is “meeting the people, educating, and finding like-minded individuals.” The Altmans will be co-hosting their grand opening celebration with the newly opened Bicycle Gallery, complete with an Irish fiddler on September 17th.

The New Bridge Organic Market will be open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The address is 708 New Bridge Street, Jacksonville, NC.

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