Steamboat Springs Linda Carlton, owner of Healthy Solutions, the health food store that had become a fixture on the east end of Lincoln Avenue, confirmed Thursday afternoon that after 20 years in business, she tentatively will close her store July 8, making way for a regional chain, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, to occupy the entire building on the southwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Third Street.
“I have 20 years invested in this business. I have three kids, and this is my fourth baby,” Carlton said. “Am I happy about it? No. But it is happening, and we’re going to make the best of it.”
Carlton has eight employees, many of whom have been there for years, including Nina Rogers, who has worked in the store for six years.
Carlton wrote on her business’s Facebook page that Leadership Circle LLC, which is known to be a developer of new locations for Vitamin Cottage, would purchase the building and “has purchased the interest in Healthy Solutions.”
Carlton said she has 2 1/2 years remaining on her lease with an option to extend it for another five years. She told the Steamboat Today in March that an offer intended to induce her to walk away from the lease wasn’t sufficient to persuade her. But she confirmed Thursday that the offer had improved since then.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if it hadn’t,” she said, adding that she will be looking for a job after the store is closed.
Developer moves forward
Until recently, the majority of the building at Third and Lincoln was occupied by David Chase Rugs and Furniture. The business’s owner — David Scully, who also owns the building — confirmed in March that it was under contract for sale.
Vitamin Cottage Director of Marketing Nancy Flynn said in May that she had no paperwork giving any indication that her company was looking at a new store in Steamboat. However, she said that it’s common for her not to learn about a new location until all of the details have been formalized.
City Planner Jason Peasley said Thursday that the developer’s application for change of use and minor exterior modification permits could come as soon as next week. However, it is pending finalization of a cost-sharing agreement between the city and the developer to make improvements to the intersection of Lincoln and Third.
In the beginning
Carlton said she first worked at a health food cooperative in the early 1990s that was located in the back of what was then the Moots Cycles building at Yampa and 12th streets. She later opened Healthy Solutions in the alley behind Cantina Mexican Restaurant. She was working another job at the time and reached the conclusion that she had to go all in with the health food store or move on. That led her to move to her current location.
She said that before renewing her lease three years ago, she researched the cost of moving to a new location and determined it would cost about $250,000. Taking on the expense of a new location this year — knowing that she would be in competition with Vitamin Cottage, which she has found is not unlike her own business — just didn’t make good financial sense, she said.
Healthy Solutions is continuing to fill special orders for its customers even as it sells its inventory, Carlton said, and she hopes her longtime customers will come say farewell.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com