Fostering a Community Vibe at Max’s Market

Since opening this spring, Max’s Market has brought local goods, music and community events to Bigfork’s newest shop

By Maggie Dresser
Max’s Market in Bigfork on Nov. 26, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

As Bigfork continues to grow its downtown, residents Chris and Jenny Evans couldn’t help but notice the town lacked an organic market.

At a crossroads in their careers, the Evanses were looking for a change in direction, which led them to open Max’s Market, named after Chris’ five-year-old son.

“The need for an organic market was glaring,” Jenny said.

Their motivation to open the market stemmed from Max, whose young spirit and love of grocery shopping inspired the shop, Jenny said.

While the grocery store focuses on local, specialty goods, the Evanses also sell baked goods, soups, salads and local skin-care products from Moon and Bee Apothecary. The market also supports a sustainable lifestyle by using tea towels instead of paper towels and limiting single-use plastic products.

Jenny says working with the short shelf life of perishable foods has been a challenge, but she’s learning to adapt her recipes to the seasonal produce that’s available. This fall, she’s been perfecting her ginger squash soup and purple potato soup.

“We get creative with what we have available,” Jenny said.

The community has welcomed Max’s Market since it opened this past Memorial Day.

“The community has been so supportive,” Jenny said.

One community member, Mary Jo Naive, showed up to help the couple simply because of her interest in and support for organic products in Bigfork.

“I appeared because there was a giant sign that said, ‘organic,’” Naive said.

A seamstress by trade, Naive not only sewed the pillows that sit on the market benches inside, but she also brought her experience in retail and marketing to help the Evans.

“She wanted to work with us and has made such a huge impact not only with her grace and charm, but with her skill,” Chris said.

In the 35 years that Naive has lived in Bigfork, she’s watched the small town grow, but she says its emphasis on community has remained the same.

“It’s not about business; it’s about community,” she said.

The Evanses built a community area on the south end of the market, which fell in line with their vision of bringing fresh, local food to Bigfork. Once Chris finished constructing the open, sunlit space in July, it became a music venue and a communal spot that hosts herbal workshops.

Equipped with a new sound system, Chris designed the space to specifically cater to music, and the Evanses hope to host music weekly. Max’s Market most recently brought in the Mike Murray Duo, which Chris says was standing room only, and there’s a piano night with Ross Bridgeman in the works for Dec. 5.

While Max’s Market initially started as just a market, the Evanses have seen a positive reaction to its evolution as a communal area and venue.

“Our original plan changed pretty dramatically for the better, so now we have a place for people to appreciate music,” Chris said.

In addition to the music scene, Naive says the market is attracting all kinds of people around Bigfork.

“People are really embracing the space, products and atmosphere,” Jenny said.

Max’s Market is located at 125 Village Lane in Bigfork. For more information, visit maxsmarketmt.com.

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