Portsmouth High School graduate and young entrepreneur Alex Vandermark is bringing his fresh product to downtown Durham. The Juicery, a nutrient-dense juice bar, and the Soupery, a made-from-scratch soup shop, are two of Vandermark’s businesses opening in the newly built space next to Campus Convenience (CampCo) on Main Street.
Using all of his savings and a credit card loan, Vandermark bought the Juicery in 2008. The store was originally a 100 square foot taxi stand in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. He never dreamed that eight years later he would have three businesses; The Juicery, The Soupery and Maine Squeeze in nine locations scattered around New Hampshire, Maine and Boston. Vandermark’s newest Juicery location will open mid-May in downtown Durham.
Vandermark had big aspirations for The Juicery but never dreamed how quickly it would grow in such a short amount of time. With a marketing degree from Stetson University in Florida, Vandermark couldn’t find a job in his field when he graduated so he temporarily took a job working at the Wentworth by the Sea in Newcastle as a valet. His life changed when he decided to look into buying a business of his own. He started by looking on Craig’s List.
“I was sort of naïve, looking at landscaping businesses and other things like that,” Vandermark said. “And then, voila; ‘The Juicery: For Sale;’ I was 24-years-old and the guy wanted $50,000, but still, $50,000 if you imagine it now is nothing for a business really.”
Vandermark negotiated the price down to below half the previous owner’s original asking price, and went to work right away. A month later, the place was up to code and Vandermark opened his first Juicery in Portsmouth.
After three years, Vandermark decided to buy another juice bar, Maine Squeeze located in Portland, Maine, as a sister spot to The Juicery after the owner offered to sell it to him. Before he knew it, Vandermark was the owner of two juice bars in New England.
“I walk in and I was just looking at the smoothies, and I think [the owner] knew that I was checking things out,” Vandermark said. “He blatantly goes, ‘You should buy my juice bar.’”
While opening Maine Squeeze, Vandermark came across his next big idea: The Soupery. Walking three blocks from Maine Squeeze, he found “the best” soup place, which now delivers homemade soups to The Soupery daily.
The Juicery in Durham will offer a variety of smoothies, juices, nitro brew coffee, soups, salads, a “bada**” grilled cheese and other healthy snacks.
“We’re definitely going to have truly healthy options, you know what I mean? You literally could eat just that and like lose or maintain your weight,” Vandermark said.
He intends on adding more options to the menu as the location expands and customers start to suggest more, or less, of certain products.
“We’re going to start out slow, see what the need is, what people want,” Vandermark said. “If people are like demanding our made-to-go salads or made-for-here salads, then maybe we’ll do it, but we’re doing a lot in this space.”
The Juicery makes all of its pre-packaged branded food from their Juicery Kitchen located in Pease Tradeport. The commercial kitchen, with a small retail space for people to come eat lunch in, is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m. as the chef Stacy makes fresh treats.
“Stacy, our chef, she’s awesome,” Vandermark said. “She’s worked everywhere. She’s a baker, she’s an herbalist…She’s really talented.”
Vandermark believes that smoothies will be the biggest seller in downtown Durham, but hopes students come to The Juicery for more than the healthy food and beverages.
“Come and hang out. I want this to be a place that students come,” he said. “Depending on how late people want to stay, we’ll stay open if there’s the need for it.”