New Bigfork store focuses on local products

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  • Jenny and Chris Evans at Max’s Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Organic produce for sale at Max’s Market in Bigfork.

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    Organic produce for sale at Max's Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Organic asparagus for sale at Max's Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Jenny and Chris Evans at Max’s Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    Organic produce for sale at Max’s Market in Bigfork.

  • 2

    Organic produce for sale at Max's Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    Organic asparagus for sale at Max's Market in Bigfork on Tuesday, June 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

A combination of broken ribs, a badly fractured leg, a medevac helicopter ride, three days in intensive care and fatherhood convinced Chris Evans to abandon the often dangerous work of logging.

“With my son, at this point in my life, when I’m really feeling the effects of these injuries, I decided to go down a very different path,” he said.

The Oregon native has lived in the Flathead Valley for 25 years.

Alaska native Jenny Rogers worked for years in aviation. As a pilot, she flew private jets and turboprops before becoming involved in aviation sales.

She moved to the Flathead Valley about three and a half years ago and during the summer of 2016 became a co-owner of Flathead Lake Resort.

In May 2018, Chris Evans, now 42, and Jenny Rogers, who is 38, married. The two recently added a new business to the path they share.

Max’s Market in Bigfork opened May 24 in an 800-square-foot building the couple purchased and renovated off Montana 35 near the entrance to Wayfarers State Park.

The market, named for Chris’ 3-year-old son, specializes in local and organic goods. The store focuses also on supporting the work of regional artisans, artists and musicians.

“We saw a need in the community and a good fit for us,” Jenny said.

The couple had helped organize the Bigfork Village Market and their participation in this effort helped introduce them to growers, musicians and others.

“There was a lot of excitement,” she said. “That helped, really, with the connections we made with farmers and vendors.”

Max’s Market works with a host of growers and suppliers. They include, but are not limited to: Wicked Good Farm, Red Poppy Gluten Free Bakery, Maven Coffee Works, Fieldheads Coffee, Moon and Bee Apothecary, Canvas Kombucha, Hindu Hillbilly, Go Roam Free, Tucker Family Farm and Hive 5.

“We put a lot of time and energy into stocking the shelves with products we believe in,” Jenny said.

The Evanses said customer response has been very good during Max’s Market’s unveiling.

Roughly 200 people attended the store’s grand opening on May 24, Jenny said.

Max’s Market quickly won over Bigfork resident Jesse Kelleher.

“I saw a real good location open up with good food and good people,” Kelleher said. “Every time we come here we find something different. They have the best produce in the valley and the nicest people.”

On Tuesday, Kelleher ordered a smoothie and Chris responded.

Meanwhile, the former logger is toiling on an addition to the 800-square-foot market building.

As envisioned, this “community room,” once complete, will host educational events, family-friendly offerings and music, including a weekly piano night, as well as add more retail space. The room will be called “Max’s Clubhouse.”

Chris plays rhythm guitar and handles lead vocals for Buck’s Frog Pond, a five-piece band that performs covers and originals in genres that include driving blues and classic country.

On the website for Flathead Lake Resort, a seasonal business just a few miles south of Max’s Market on Montana 35, the couple describe themselves as adventurers who embrace a host of outdoor activities in Montana, ranging from whitewater kayaking to backcountry downhill skiing.

Now, they’re also running two businesses and raising Chris’ son.

Jenny said the staff at Flathead Lake Resort, which offers a variety of lodging options, includes four full-time workers. At Max’s Market there is a full-time manager and four part-time workers, she said.

Neither she nor Chris has retail experience, a reality Jenny said is mitigated by “the support from the community and the community’s willingness to help us learn.

“That’s how we build the business and will continue to build the business — feedback from the community,” she said.

The couple has used social media such as Facebook and Instagram to promote Max’s Market. Jenny said she believes the store’s proximity to Montana 35 and Wayfarers State Park will help attract customers, including tourists.

So far, shepherding two businesses as tourist season revs up has not felt unwieldy, Jenny said.

“It’s been exciting. I think we both get a lot of energy from seeing our passions and creations come to life.”

Max’s Market is located at 125 Village Lane in Bigfork. Call 406-420-2272. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

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