Calais, News

East Calais General Store Restored and Ready for Business

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photo by John Lazenby/Montpelier Bridge
U.S. Sen. Peter Welch speaks at the opening of the renovated store. At right is Gov. Phil Scott. Marc Mihaly, center, is chair of the East Calais Community Trust.

by Linda Radtke, The Montpelier Bridge

The 1850 store has been restored through the East Calais Community Trust.

At the register, U-32 students Bree Tetreault, 15, and Ethan Wichrowski (it was his first day on the job) mastered the complexities of a new system as they chatted with customers. A man in blaze orange with his dog dropped in for a coffee and a fresh-baked cider donut. 

For Sara Prentice, the store is welcome, particularly after the closing of the Woodbury store created a food desert from East Montpelier to Hardwick. 

“This is my first time here. It’s awesome. You can actually buy miso on your way home from work.” She mused on the convenience of dropping in for a gallon of milk or a take-out meal for the family. Her daughter Winnie asked, “Are they going to have creemees?”

The store offers fresh focaccia bread, hot cider on Saturdays and pick-up dinners ready at 5:30 p.m., with menus changing daily. Several shoppers shared ideas for the day’s offering — cottage pie: is it shepherd’s pie with beef instead of lamb? Is there cheese on top?

photo by John Lazenby/Montpelier Bridge
Peter “Buffy” Collins rings up Beth Stern’s purchase after the opening ceremonies at the renovated and reborn East Calais General Store on Friday, Oct. 27.

Local resident Jaime Davis carried milk, snacks, ravioli and sauce. He remembered coming to the old store every day and had missed it. A young couple bought snacks and beverages on their way to Hardwick to get their COVID boosters. 

Craig Line of Kent’s Corner Sugarhouse set up a maple syrup tasting station at the big table in front — bourbon-barrel-aged syrup from the fifth generation sugarmaker. He swapped stories of his mentor, fellow sugarmaker Burr Morse, and of old Goddard College days. The wood stove and rocking chairs in the corner looked inviting on the chilly fall day.

All the customers took a moment to admire the woodwork and the spacious plan of the new store and connect with neighbors as they shopped. Many seemed to recognize each other and nodded, smiled or stopped to chat. 

The East Calais General Store is open weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays. Fresh flowers are delivered every Friday afternoon from Amy Thornton of Mama Tree Farm and the store is a pickup site for Pete’s Greens community-supported agriculture. 

[This article first appeared in the Montpelier Bridge, was reprinted by VTDigger, and appears in the Gazette through a content-sharing agreement between the Gazette and VTDigger.]

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