Hardwick, News

Buffalo Mountain Market Celebrates its First Year Anniversary

courtesy photo
The staff at Buffalo Mountain Market includes (left to right) front row, Pam Stonier, Ellen Bresler, Emily Hershberger, Valeria Angelo, Milly Pino and Sue Barclay; back row, Regina Troiano, Kathy Castellano, Heidi Patria, Jade Morrison, Anni Gaillard and Jessie Zeigler.

HARDWICK – The Buffalo Mountain Market will celebrate their one-year anniversary of being in their new location on Mill Street for a year on June 17 at Atkins Field 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be live music, food, beverages and activities. Everyone is welcome.

As one of the oldest food cooperatives in Vermont, Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op has a strong history in the village of Hardwick. Originally founded as a buying club, the co-op first opened a physical store in 1975 on Wolcott Street. After several years it outgrew that space and moved to the Jeudevine Mansion on North Main Street, renting a section of the main floor and barn space.

The co-op experienced a growth spurt as a result of the move to a storefront on Main Street. Then, in March of 2022 the co-op bought a market around the corner with the space needed to support a growing customer base. Originally called Hall’s Market, the store was owned by the Hall family from May 1994 to November 2013 when they sold to the Trags and it became Hardwick Village Market.

The process of moving the co-op was collaborative, with community involvement and much discussion. During those conversations, the voice of the market community was heard. With their new name, Buffalo Mountain Market (BMM), they would expand into both a larger and more inclusive community grocery in Hardwick.

“Working with all employees to merge both stores, I saw the heart and soul they put into their work and knew that, even with our differences, we could work together to create a more inclusive community shopping experience. It has been so inspiring to see the crew become a cohesive team and increase the diversity of shoppers of Buffalo Mountain Market over the past year,” said BMM General Manager, Emily Hershberger.

For a few months, both stores remained open with both sets of staff retained. After the major renovations were done, the stores merged, along with the staff, shoppers, and goods of both locations.

In 2022 the co-op launched a capital campaign that provided the funding to make the move happen. They exceeded the original goal of $500,000 by raising $966,500. The fundraising efforts brought in the support of the community with $167,000 in donations, $523,000 in loans from Vermont residents, $276,500 in grants through Healthy Food Finance Initiative, Efficiency Vermont, and Working Lands Enterprise. Their successful capital campaign allowed the co-op to take out less in loans and keep more money in the community.

There is additional renovation to complete yet, including the parking lot, and a redesign of the storefront. The goal for Buffalo Mountain Market is to become a net-zero grocery store over the next five years.

Since the new store opened there has been a 189% increase in new members. The market seeks to provide local and regional food choices and security, keep money in the community and to education for a sustainable future.

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