Two days after Central Market’s official opening, Stephen Julia and Katsumi Ruiz are still figuring out where to shelve incoming produce deliveries at Green Seed Market. Boxes of broccoli and lettuce are stacked up in the shop’s corner, waiting for a home. Two lonely bottles of fresh juice sit in the refrigerated display; the rest have sold out faster than expected. At the salad bar, customers order veggie bowls even at the odd 3-5 hours between lunch and dinner. The shop has all the feel of a New York bodega—small, bustling, and just chaotic enough to feel authentic.
But the journey that led to Green Seed Market’s opening wasn’t an easy one. With Central Market’s opening delayed multiple times for various reasons, even locals wondered if the gourmet community marketplace would ever open at all. But in late September, when Central Market opened its doors, the 13 vendors inside were met with enthusiasm that surprised them all. Green Seed was no different, and the small produce shop was overwhelmed with orders.
Green Seed is a unique enterprise in Central Market as it wasn’t even in the original plan. Stephen and Katsumi planned to open Curio, the bar inside of Central Market, but had no produce supplier on site. Since the market functions on a unique model—where vendors supply one another with goods at a discounted rate—developers needed a produce shop.
Stephen and Katsumi, along with their partner Rianna Thomas, decided to open Green Seed in addition to Curio. The produce shop functions as a traditional produce shop, with local and seasonal foods, as well as a salad bar. The shop also supplies most other vendors with fresh fruits and veggies, including mint for Temper Chocolates and fruit for drinks at Curio.
“We have the freshest lemons in Denver,” jokes Stephen, acknowledging that the turnover on lemons is so high due to the bar sales that no one else in Denver can keep up. And he’s not exaggerating—Curio has been regularly packed since Central Market’s opening a month ago. Just like Green Seed, the bar has a local, personal feel with just enough bustle to keep things exciting.
“We wanted people to come in as visitors and still have the neighborhood feel,” says Stephen. The purpose of the market is to create a community that anyone can join, even if it’s just for an hour or a lunch break.
For the community surrounding Central Market, Stephen says that the shops, especially Green Seed, are focused on meeting community needs. There is compost in the back, and salvageable foods that aren’t sold are donated to the Denver Rescue Mission. In addition, Green Seed tries to order produce that meets neighborhood needs.
While demands are still a bit of an unknown for such a new shop, Green Seed does plan on launching chia drinks, charcoal drinks and other juices that meet nutritional needs. They also plan on bringing in fresh flowers and more locally made goods, like cards and seasonal gifts.
Even though Curio has been the star of Central Market since its opening—with nothing but 5-star reviews and raves in local publications—Green Seed is a testament to the working model of Central Market; the idea that you can find what you need as close as a few hundred feet away.