Biz Buzz: April 20, 2017

After 12 years, Bob Helmer has decided it is time to close Alida’s Fruits at 419 Main St.

The reason is simple, Helmer said, “It’s just time to slow down.”

Helmer, known as “Farmer Bob” to most of his customers, will turn 80 years old this summer.

He doesn’t plan to completely retire, but he does want to spend more time tending his farm and fruit trees at 3402 C 1/2 Road on East Orchard Mesa, and pursue some of the other hobbies he enjoys.

“I’ve got no regrets — it’s been a good run,” he said.

The main retail office on C 1/2 Road will remain open, Helmer said.

“We will still have all our jams and salsas out here, and fresh fruit and produce during the season like we always have,” he said.

The store’s one full-time employee, Cindy Bledsoe, also plans to semi-retire, but continue to work at the C 1/2 Road store a couple of days a week.

Bledsoe has worked at Alida’s Fruits downtown for almost six years. “I’ve had a front row seat to all the activities downtown. It’s been a very pleasurable experience,” she said.

The store will close when the lease expires at the end of June, Helmer said.

He’s hopeful another Main Street merchant will consider carrying Alida’s products in their store for downtown shoppers.

“I’ve always enjoyed being on Main Street. It was handier but they’ll come back over here (to the farm),” he said.

■ Discount grocery store Save-A-Lot, previously a tenant in the Teller Arms Shopping Center, lasted a little more than a year, after closing for good last Saturday, but their short stay was not without an impact on the struggling North Avenue corridor.

You might recall the dust-up in March last year when a no-compete clause in the lease they signed with property management company Benchmark Opportunity Partners LLC of Dallas stipulated that no other produce could be sold in the complex.

That meant the boot, eventually, for the Grand Junction Farm and Ranch Market, the longest-running farmers market in the valley dating back to 1977. The conflict forced the market to relocate, to historic Cross Orchards, where they plan on being this summer, according to a website for the market. First market of the year is planned for June 14, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays thereafter from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Save-A-Lot spokesman Chon Tomlin said in an email that the North Avenue store was closed “based on a strategic business review of performance.”

Downtown Grand Junction’s signature Italian restaurant is closed for lunch for about a month, but that won’t last forever.

According to an email from Il Bistro Italiano, the restaurant at 400 Main St. is closed for lunch from now until May 5 to revamp the lunch menu. Evening hours remain the same, and the restaurant is open from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and on Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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