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
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.