By CHARLES MELTON
For years the residents around Evergreen Park longed for a store that catered to their needs in a family-friendly environment.
That’s where Cynthia Jeffries-Cyr came in last April when she opened CJ’s Evergreen General Store at 1417 Park Ave.
“I wanted to bring a general store concept with a strong emphasis on customer service,” Jeffries-Cyr said.
As the former manager of the Port Gamble General Store in Port Gamble, Jeffries-Cyr said the opportunity in Bremerton couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The family had just lost their lease, and one of our customers told us about it,” she said.
All it took was one look at the building and two months of work to get the building ready to serve the eagerly awaiting customer base, she said.
“We had to redo the floors, paint and bring in the ice cream and pie cases,” she said.
The store officially opened its doors on April 21, 2007 and it didn’t take long for residents to embrace the business, she said.
“We reached our benchmark within two to three weeks, which was what we needed to pay the bills,” she said.
In addition to offering the usual items found in chain grocery stores, Jeffries-Cyr said the store prides itself in having selections from as many local vendors as possible.
“We’ve got 11 local vendors that we work with, and we’re looking for vendors who can provide fresh produce yearround,” she said.
Among the local vendors who can be found at the market are Pheasant Fields Farm, Dungeness Valley Creamery and Orca Beverages.
While some stores carry a small amount of organic produce and other natural foods, CJ’s Market has made a strong effort to cater to that growing market, she said.
“When we first started, we were ordering 10 gallons of raw milk a week,” she said. “Now we’re up to 35 gallons.”
In the future, Jeffries-Cyr said one of her goals is continue expanding the store’s organic selections.
Although recent snows have put a damper on any ideas of an early spring and summer, plans are already underway to have BBQs in conjunction with the city of Bremerton’s Tuesday night concerts in the park and a BBQ during the First Friday art walks with a local artist on display at the store, she said.
Since CJ’s is a neighborhood market in every sense of the word, Jeffries-Cyr said she allows kids to hang in the store after school until their parents get home.
“I only have one rule,” she said. “If you steal from me, you can’t come back. So far, I haven’t had any problems.”