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June 2024

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Oldest San Luis Grocery Store Set to Reopen

Courtesy Photo

The San Luis Valley, settled by the Spaniards in the early 1500s shares close cultural ties with northern New Mexico. The small community has experienced its fair share of struggles, being the oldest town in Colorado and competing with large cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs.

The people are modest and are sure to take care of one another whenever the need arises. Many buildings in town are older but show the antiquated charm of the days when the town was once in its prime.

Unfortunately, through the years, many businesses have closed or fallen into disarray. The only full-service grocery store, known as the San Luis People’s Market, has been operating in the San Luis Valley since 1857. It was operational until it was forced to shut its doors in 2023, when building inspectors found asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold in the store.

The Acequia Institute worked to become a fiscal sponsor on behalf of the market to obtain a $200,416 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which is a loan fund to help cover the cost of the asbestos abatement and lead-based paint and mold removal.

According to a Facebook post from the Acequia Institute, they have also secured a generous $50,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture to reset the interior of the market, which was gutted for the floor cleanout. The grant is giving the market the ability to install new shelves and gondolas, a new floor, bulk food dispensary and a new checkout stand and office.

“As the only full-service grocery store in San Luis, Colorado, the reopening of San Luis Market will help ensure Coloradans in the valley have access to healthy food in a safe store, and I am glad the state could provide a grant to help reopen this community landmark,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

According to a release from CDPHE, reopening the San Luis People’s Market is essential, as fresh food and groceries are not easily accessible in the community. The top of the market also offers affordable housing.
The Acequia Institute goes on to say, “We are planning to host a grand reopening ceremony during Santa Ana Fiesta Days, during the last weekend in July. Please plan to visit us for music, poetry, free food, and door prizes including a one-year membership in the food cooperative we are forming.”