The Mountain Times

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Shrewsbury Coop at Pierce's Store celebrates three years

Three years ago, a group of North Shrewsbury, Vt., residents became the stewards of an historic country store and town hub. August 25 marked the 3-year anniversary of the formation of The Shrewsbury Cooperative at Pierce's Store.

A store in this location dates back to 1865 and it was operated by the W.E. Pierce family from 1918 until 1993 - when the last remaining Pierce family member, Marjorie Pierce, closed the doors of the community general store. Until then it had been a community hub, known as much for its penny candy as it was for a place to visit with the local neighbors. Before her death in 2001, Marjorie handed it over to the historic treasure to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, a non-profit organization that assists local and state efforts to maintain and use historic resources. Her wish was to have the store operational again and draw the community together.

In 2008, the Trust sought out a tenant to run the store in a much bigger way than that of the original owners. That's when the cooperative was formed and their proposal was selected to run the store. "That year was an exciting time for everyone involved. We poured a lot of sweat equity into the store and crossed our fingers when we opened the doors on August 25, 2009," says Sally Deinzer, coop board president.

The sweat equity has paid off, as the store continues to grow each year. Sales each year have exceeded expectations and 2012 seems poised to do the same. "We have a lot of support from our community, and many residents do most of their weekly shopping at the store," says store manager, K.P. Whaley. "Sales are great, but we're still a new organization, so getting control of our expenses and the cost of goods is our biggest challenge and we've really been focused on that this year. We expect that attention will pay off in a profitable year come December."

Support from the community comes in many forms for the fledgling business. One way is through the cooperative structure itself, which allows individuals to purchase shares in the organization and become owners. However, you don't need to be a member to shop. The store is open to any and all who want to come in.

Another show of support is by Shrewsbury locals who supply many products including; beef, eggs, maple syrup, produce, candy, salsas, pasta and large consignment area consisting of hand knits, pottery, woodwork and other crafts.

The strongest show of support is from volunteers. A few people are paid staff, but a significant amount of labor comes from the 20+ weekly volunteers who do everything from running the cash register to stocking the shelves and back office bookkeeping, which adds a unique community feeling to the store.

"We are a cooperative running a true historic country store, with everything from motor oil to fresh baked scones and bread. We really try to offer something for everyone in the community and also try to give folks a reason to come in to the store and visit with their neighbors," says Deinzer. With offerings such as take-out pizza night, fresh seafood pick-up, Friday night dinners, and monthly wine & beer tastings it's hard to imagine how the community wouldn't cherish and support this historic community institution.

To mark the anniversary, the coop shared coffee and cake with the community on Saturday August 25.

Shrewsbury Cooperative is located at 2658 Northam Rd. North Shrewsbury Vt..  Hours of operation are 7a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday.  For more information visit www.piercesstorevt.com. Or call 802-492-3326.

Tagged: Shrewsbury, Coop