When Sarah Thomason and Mark Perdigao bought the Harmony Ridge Market in 2004, folks were skeptical.
Nearby residents didn’t believe the seasonal country store five miles out of Nevada City on Highway 20 could survive as a year-round establishment.
Fast-forward nine years, and the market continues to flourish, despite the tourist shoulder season, the remote location and the occasional power outage.
The secret to their success?
“We brought in fresh food, like sandwiches, salads and homemade desserts,” said Thomason. “We knew we had the summer campers and the winter ski traffic, but we were so happy when locals began coming to us for the food.”
In addition to their menu, Thomason and Perdigao became known for listening to their customers and shifting their inventory according to needs and preferences.
“I really respect their business ethics,” said employee Melissa Miller, of her bosses. “This is the best job I’ve ever had.”
As of Jan. 11, the married owners of the Harmony Ridge Market have brought their recipe-for-success to downtown Nevada City, having opened the new Harmony Ridge Market Downtown, on the corner of Pine and Spring streets.
Formerly the site of the Nevada City Marketplace, the store’s motto is “Convenient fare with healthy options.”
“I don’t think we’re in direct competition with nearby businesses,” said Perdigao. “I like to think we’re complementing what’s already here. We are about 95 percent similar to our other store, but with a new twist designed to cater to downtown needs. For example, we have more vegan and gluten-free items here.”
With fresh grab-and-go food daily, Friday’s menu included Southwestern chicken tortilla soup, and Thomason was handing out samples of her freshly baked vegan chai cake. New recipes include other vegan desserts, and an Asian vegan slaw.
“I hope to branch out because the commercial kitchen in the new store is bigger,” she said.
“We make all our sandwiches, and some of our customers’ favorite desserts include banana bread, carrot cake and triple layer chocolate New York cheesecake.”
With an emphasis on carrying organic and local fare, the Harmony Ridge Market Downtown carries items from Way Yum Sushi, Truckee Sourdough Company, Caroline’s Coffee Roasters (including espresso) Bubba’s Bagels, Cousin Jack’s Pasties, Grass Valley Soap and more.
Grocery items range from milk and yogurt to cat food, cereal, produce and beer.
“We want to have a little something for everyone,” said Thomason.
“For example, today a customer came in and bought kombucha and a bag of Cheetos.”
The back corner of the large downtown store is devoted to clothes, and the popular “Sock It To Me” socks and local wines.
Perdigao and Thomason met years ago while working at Peachwood’s Steakhouse in Santa Cruz. When they relocated to Nevada County, Thomason worked at the now-closed Kirby’s Creekside Restaurant and Perdigao at Tofanelli’s.
“Growing up on the East Coast I always had this vision that I would one day have a mountain store and cater to the locals,” said Perdigao.
“One day I was driving by the Harmony Ridge Market on my way to Sugar Bowl (ski resort). It was all boarded up with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. I guess it was meant to be.”
With the opening of their second store, the recent 60-hour weeks have not seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the married business partners.
“We’ve just worked our fourteenth day in a row,” said Thomason. “We’re lucky we’re both hard workers. It’s rewarding to get such positive feedback at both stores. We love our store up the hill, but our downtown store brings new and exciting challenges. There are so many new opportunities to grow here.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4203.
“I hope to branch out because the commercial kitchen in the new store is bigger.”
— SARAH THOMASON