Dave Clark and Tom Clark Jr. (left to right) have a laugh at their Aspen store juggling oranges in the revamped produce section.
Photo credit: Michele Cardamone Photography
Forty years ago, Tom Clark Sr. opened his first market in Aspen. Since then, the store donning his last name, Clark’s Market, has grown to nine Colorado locations, two in Utah, and a recently opened store in Sedona, AZ. Every store is unique in that it reflects each community’s needs, whether it be in a small ski-town or rural Utah.
Embracing the community’s needs means the Clarks and their employees spend more time talking to customers rather than attending corporate meetings. Tom Clark Jr., now at the helm of the family-owned business, says the personal connections are what makes this job special: “I love knowing our customers and walking down the aisles and knowing people’s names.”
Part of the small-town charm includes offering tours of the store to curious shoppers. In his Aspen store, Clark Jr. bemoaned a dreaded part of his behind-the-scenes sneak peek: the compressor room. It housed old, outdated refrigeration equipment that was painfully loud and inefficient. The room forced a pause during the tour and required Clark Jr. to shout to get his point across.
In addition to a noisy compressor room, the market on Puppy Smith Road needed significant remodeling. When moving forward with the 2016 renovation, the Aspen local wanted to make sure his store reflected the environmental beliefs he and his shoppers value. Having heard of CORE in the past, from a Rotary Club presentation and by flipping through the local paper, Clark Jr. decided to meet up to talk about the project scope. He chatted with Brad Davis, Energy Programs Manager, about incorporating energy-efficiency upgrades into their remodel plans.
The market overwent a complete overhaul, replacing electricity-guzzling T-12 fluorescents with LEDs. In fact, 100% of the store is now lit with the latest in LED technology. They also addressed the compressors by installing high-efficiency models with new electronically commutated (EC) motors, bringing the number of refrigeration units from ten all the way down to two. Now when Clark Jr. gives his tour, there is just a dull hum of efficient equipment.
“For a small business the costs [of upgrades] are incredibly high. But the savings are all there, it just makes sense to do it,” commented the business owner.
The efficiency upgrades cut the Clark’s market electricity bill in half, largely thanks to the new LEDs. The refrigeration project also saw immediate benefits. The new system operates smoothly and maintenance-free, meaning no time spent adjusting the system or worrying about upcoming maintenance costs. The EC motor controls allow the units to modulate, instead of being on 24/7 – essentially a variable frequency drive (VFD) for refrigeration (learn more about VFD technology here). Annually, the upgrades are projected to save over $10,000 and 145,000 kWh. The payback on these projects has been realized even quicker, thanks to rebates from CORE and the City of Aspen. The savings captured in the Aspen store have allowed them to complete energy efficiency projects even faster in other areas, with the Sedona store next on the list.
“With help from a CORE commercial rebate we were able to make energy upgrades at our Aspen location. The savings that we capture here allows us to roll out these kinds of projects even faster in our other stores,” said Clark Jr.
Clark’s Market is a staple in the Aspen community as a local small business that puts it’s customers and the environment first. Locals can now peruse aisles lit with LEDs, shop a produce section with improved quality (thanks to new refrigeration), and continue to talk directly to their grocer. In addition to efficiency upgrades, the Aspen market recently transitioned to compostable paper straws, just another effort in doing their part.
“We are really appreciative of the help from CORE. For small businesses, it’s not always easy to make energy upgrades, but we are lucky to have CORE to lead us down the path to save money and protect our environment.”
Are you a Roaring Fork Valley business owner interested in making energy upgrades? Talk to our Energy Programs Manager, Brad Davis, to sign-up for a FREE site-visit and to learn more about projects eligible for CORE commercial rebates.