Rocket Market concerts attract a following

THURSDAY, AUG. 2, 2007

The Rocket Market, at 726 E. 43rd Ave., is not your typical gas station grab-n-go.

There are no prepackaged snacks, hot dogs, nachos or slushies.

The store specializes in organic foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s jam-packed with hard-to-find ingredients such as garbanzo bean flour and gourmet spices from Dean & Deluca. The beer selection boasts IPAs, hefeweizens and many microbrews.

Plus you can fill up the gas tank in your car.

For the fifth year in a row, the tiny little grocery store tucked away off of Grand Boulevard is now offering outdoor concerts every Tuesday and Saturday night at 8 p.m.

“Lately it’s started to be a very large event,” said the Rocket Market’s owner Alan Shepherd. The concerts began earlier this summer, and Shepherd estimates that there are 100 to 200 people showing up to sit and enjoy the music.

In years past, the concert series has run through the end of September. But the market recently was remodeled to include indoor seating, and now there’s talk of holding concerts year-round, but on a much smaller basis.

The renovations include an atrium with tables and chairs, and displays of works by local artists. There also is an expanded freezer and refrigerated sections of the store.

Shepherd and his wife, Shanda, are in partnership with Jeff and Julia Postlewait, who first opened the Rocket Bakery in Millwood in 1991.

The store, which has an extensive selection of beer and wine, has a restaurant license so customers can buy a bottle of wine and enjoy it while they listen to music.

Novices can take wine classes offered by the store on Friday nights. Each class typically features eight wines for tasting and cheese and bread for $20.

Shepherd said it makes for a comfortable concert experience; just neighbors sitting down and listening to music.

Shepherd said many folks walk to the store carrying their own blankets and chairs, although he has around 120 plastic chairs for those who don’t have them.

“If you want a seat, get there at least a half an hour early,” he said.

Shepherd enjoys the mix of people who come to the concerts, everyone from hip young people through folks in their 80s enjoying the blues, pop or jazz concerts in the store’s parking lot. Kids are welcome, too, he said.

The Rocket Market doesn’t make much money from the performances. After all the fees have been taken care of and employees are paid, the evenings are mostly about getting neighbors together to have a good time, Shepherd said.

But he said he gets a great feeling of community every time there’s a concert.

“I love to drive by and see 200 people in the parking lot and having a good time,” he said.

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