New Dahlia & Sage owners looking to expand community involvement, continue legacy of store founders, introduce beer and wine sales
Downtown Cloverdale’s community market has a new set of owners. As of about three weeks ago, Dahlia & Sage Community Market changed hands, and the new owners — Karie and Kurt Kelder, and Frances and Peter Kruger — are poised to grow the market’s reach, while maintaining its community-minded mission.
“Ourselves and the Kelders have shopped here since it opened and we saw that it really filled a huge void in downtown Cloverdale,” said Peter Kruger on the decision to purchase the market. “When we heard the store was for sale, we really just couldn’t imagine the store just not being here. We felt like there would be a really big hole downtown, so we got together with the Kelders and talked about it — what really attracted us to the store was that it was really sort of a community hub and it has the potential to be more of that.”
Frances Kruger added that they also looked at what the market added from a community perspective as well. In a time where people tend to be more concerned about where to find healthy, sustainable, organic food, they were able to count on Dahlia & Sage.
“Our community has changed significantly since I moved here, and I feel like our community is becoming more educated about what we eat and with that, the desire for fresh, healthy and locally produced food has grown,” she said. “I think supporting local farmers is a big part of that. We just love being part of that side of the community as well.”
The market sells produce from local businesses such as Lantern Farm and Duncan’s Mushrooms, and it’s that sort of business relationship that the new owners find important — knowing where your food comes from, and knowing the people who help put it on the table.
The Kelders and the Krugers took over ownership around two weeks ago and since then “it’s been a whirlwind,” Frances said.
“I’ve learned a lot, but the staff here are amazing. They’re such a fantastic, cohesive team and we wouldn’t have got through the last couple of weeks without them. The other thing that’s really shaken me to the core was the community,” she said. “People just, all kinds of different patrons of the shop have been saying ‘thank you for keeping the doors open,’ and I feel like the community really feels that need to keep it open.”
The Kelders have been in Cloverdale since 2001, and the Krugers have been in town since 2004. Between them, they have five daughters, have coached 16 seasons of Cloverdale Youth Soccer and serve on the board of four organizations — community and family is important to them.
While none of the four have worked in the grocery retail industry before, the Krugers believe that all of their combined experience mixed with their deep community roots and experience in other areas of the food industry will makes for a winning ownership combination.
Since 2005, the Kelders have run Cloverdale-based Kelder Engineering. Additionally, Peter is a master brewer and the chief operating officer of Bear Republic Brewing Company and Frances has 15 years of experience working in the wine industry.
“I’m loving being part of the community in a different capacity,” Frances said. “I’ve coached soccer, I’ve been on boards, I’ve been in the community with the Alexander Valley Film Society and in different wine capacities. But this is so fun — there’s this lovely old guy who comes in every day and he has a cup of coffee and we have a couple minute conversation every day — I just love that. I love seeing my friends and just chatting with people.”
While the future of Dahlia & Sage will continue to be rooted in the sale of fresh food, the Krugers said that there are some additions in the works.
“The core of the company is not going to change,” Frances said. “The mission of bringing fresh, local, organic food to Cloverdale — that’s not going to change. We’re going to hopefully bring beer and wine in, you will be able to get a glass of beer or a glass of wine here—no hard liquor—and those products will be locally sourced or organic brands that we know about and trust.”
Farther down the road, they’re hoping that Dahlia & Sage will become a community hub when it comes to food education. Though nothing has been sorted out yet, the owners have plans to potentially host food education classes, community projects and food making seminars.
“We want to provide a venue for people to come together,” Peter said. “Whether that’s classes or things like author signings, this is a chance to give people a place to meet.”