Custer’s newest grocery store specializes in products that are organic, gourmet, South Dakota-grown, farm fresh or just a bit quirky.
Wild Spruce Market opened Wednesday at 447 Mount Rushmore Road next to its sister business, Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. The market takes owners Claude and Christie Smith back to their roots as grocers, while giving Custer a unique shopping experience.
The Smiths bring to Wild Spruce Market more than two decades of experience owning a grocery store in Iowa. They moved to Custer in 2006 and bought Custer County Market. The couple and their daughter, Jessica Hartmann, made the switch to the restaurant business with Black Hills Burger & Bun. Claude is the main cook, but he’s been missing the grocery store business.
“He’s a grocer at heart,” said Hartmann, who co-manages Wild Spruce Market and Black Hills Burger & Bun.
The Smiths had tested the waters for a specialty grocery store when they carried some organic and natural products at Custer County Market, Hartmann said. Custer has seen a growing demand for organic and specialty products, she said. When the Black Hills Power building next door to Black Hills Burger & Bun went up for sale, the Smiths and Hartmann saw an opportunity.
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“We decided, ‘Let’s get back in the grocery business but do all organic and specialty foods. The fun, funky stuff you can’t find anywhere else,” Hartmann said. “A lot of people need dairy-free and gluten-free foods. It sounded like that’s what people wanted and they were having to drive to Rapid City to get it.”
Construction began late in 2019 to gut and transform the former power building “1950s office” into Wild Spruce Market, Hartmann said.
“A lot of people have been asking for produce. We will have a good variety of organic produce. We will have local meats and grass-fed buffalo. We will have beef, farm-raised chicken, fresh eggs,” Hartmann said.
The market has a wine section, plus a beer and wine bar and a patio where customers can linger with wine by the glass, local beers on tap, and one locally made kombucha.
Though small, the market is a full grocery store with some items that are distinctly unusual. This week, the market’s Facebook page advertised a protein powder and energy bars made from ground crickets.
Besides selling items people can’t find elsewhere in Custer, Hartmann said she and her parents are focusing on exceptional customer service. Shoppers can special order products or buy items by the case. Because the store doesn’t have a parking lot, Hartmann said the market will offer customers drive-up service in the alley behind the store where they can have their groceries loaded into their car, if needed.
“You tell us what you want, and we will do everything we can to make that happen,” Hartmann said. “We are here for you.”
Wild Spruce Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. No grand opening event is planned, but Hartmann said she and her parents are excited to welcome the locals who’ve been awaiting the store’s opening. For more information about Wild Spruce Market and their products, go to facebook.com/wildsprucemarket/.