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Grocer is razing barriers

EXETER - Kathy Gallant is hoping to break more than just some walls at the Blue Moon Market; shattering the barriers between Exeter residents and whole foods is another goal of her current redesign project.
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EXETER - Kathy Gallant is hoping to break more than just some walls at the Blue Moon Market; shattering the barriers between Exeter residents and whole foods is another goal of her current redesign project.

Gallant, owner of Blue Moon Market and Green Earth Cafe, shut the doors of her 8 Clifford St. building Saturday evening to begin the grunt work of a renovation in planning for months. The weeklong process is part of Gallants efforts to stay ahead in an ever-changing food industry.

"A lot of people are afraid of change," she said. "It takes months of planning, and theres an energy that you have to create to make change. Im being sensitive to the industry."

While the Blue Moon has been a prime source for natural, organic and whole foods in Exeter for the last 11 years, it has come face to face with a growing question: What do you do next when large chain supermarkets are increasingly carrying natural food selections?

To Gallant, the answer lay in jumping "ahead of the wave" and offering her patrons more of what they love as well as some new options.

"It forced us to look at where we were heading," Gallant said. "Weve decided people are coming here for the kitchen food."

So now the caf dining area is expanding to allow for more seating, a bathroom is being added, and fresh-made selections are moving to the front of the deli case.

The market will also pick up a little extra bulk. Bulk product, that is. According to Gallant, if she can find it in bulk, shes getting it. Patrons will now have the opportunity to buy items like olive and safflower oils in large quantities that they can use to fill their small, decorative bottles at home; no more throwing out bottle after bottle.

But bigger isnt the only thing making the market better. Though she was hesitant at first, Gallant decided it was time to bring in some European goods.

"The European market is very environmentally conscious. They survive on sustainability," she said.

One of the great benefits, she added, is that European laws prohibit use of artificial growth hormones.

When it comes down to it, however, Gallant maintains that her business will continue to encompass the things people love about it, things they shared on a "What do you love about the Blue Moon" clipboard. Customers were given the opportunity over recent weeks to express what they liked and what they would like to see at the location and the response was overwhelming.

What do they like? The spirit, the smells, the energy and the salad bar were some popular mentions. What they were looking for was bulk foods, more organic produce and expanded food serving areas.

Gallant, who realized the Blue Moon Market has been redesigned almost every two years, said this years project will bring a little of everything. She plans to carry more local goods, including artwork by featured artists, beginning a wait staff for peak times and offering more foods on the go.

She also wants to knock down the fears some people hold about natural foods. While her patrons come from all over New Hampshire and even the Boston area, Gallant says there are people in Exeter who have never stepped in the door. She is trying to let locals know that her business is an all-inclusive community.

"You will see the grandmother, the construction worker, the professor and the tattooed, pierced young person all in the same room," Gallant said. She added that natural foods are affordable and an economic way to make a difference in your life.

Education has always been a focus in Gallants work. She offers cooking classes, which will resume in May, that help take the mystery out of whole foods and volunteers her time at the New Outlook Teen Center in Exeter.

The Blue Moon Market will reopen Saturday to kick off its 12th season and celebrate Earth Day. The public is invited to come and learn about the market and cafs new features while enjoying bluegrass tunes and an Earth Day menu at the caf. The day will also feature a new display of artwork, watercolor paintings by Hampton artist Ethel Hills.