By Karen D. Lorentz
After many years of work and extensive renovations, W. E. Pierce Groceries in North Shrewsbury, a.k.a. Pierce’s Store, reopened as a country store serving a small rural community on Aug. 25, 2009.
The country store has served as the “original convenience store” but also has provided a “heartbeat” to the community, a legacy that lives on today at Pierce’s Store.
But small country stores also cater to a smaller population and many find it hard to survive in today’s world. That makes Pierce’s five years of operation a success story and cause for celebration!
So on Sunday, Aug. 31, Pierce’s Store will hold a fifth anniversary party. Festivities include a barbeque from 12-noon to 3 p.m., featuring local “Maple Crest Farm burgers, resident-chef Rob McKain’s hamburger buns, hot dogs and buns, locally-made and contributed green, potato and other salads, ice cream cones and cake,” noted Sally Deinzer, store manager.
The Thursday Morning Strummers will play live music, games will be on hand and a tent was donated so the event can go on rain or shine, Deinzer said.
From 1918 through 1993, the Pierce family operated the store, carrying on a tradition of serving the local community with provisions, necessaries, penny candy, and a place to connect.
Since reopening, the store has been operated as a cooperative and largely depends on the volunteers who take turns staffing the store or helping with various duties like stocking shelves.
“I am incredibly grateful to all the volunteers who have helped make this venture as successful as it has been. And the community’s support continues to grow with us. It’s only with continuing support from both groups that we can stay on track to reaching a point of sustainability for the long term,” Deinzer noted.
About 150 families make up the active co-op members who pay a small annual fee. They receive a discount on regular purchases and special pricing on bulk orders. The store is also open to the public.
Recently, the store has expanded its offerings, “We’ve more than doubled our inventory, and it’s constantly adjusting. Bakery items are very popular — we now have Rob’s Stickey Buns three days a week,” Deinzer said. “The daily meal choices often sell out. Friday night dinners continue and we’ve increased the number and variety of items that are available on pre-order, regularly including fish, bulk chicken and organic meats, wines, bulk coffee. Essentially, anything available from our suppliers is available to purchase in bulk at a discount.”
The store also has fresh fruits and vegetables, Deinzer adds.
Other changes include a point-of-sale system that simplifies inventory management and minimizes errors.
“I never imagined what we would look like in five years, and I would never have thought that we’d be open seven days a week for a total of 81 hours!
“The store is becoming a key hub for information. On the morning of Jim Jeffords’ death, I received three phone calls informing me so I could let customers know the news. We posted a sign to let folks know and the stories began to flow.
It was similar when Tropical Storm Irene forsed the closing of the CCC Road. “People would call to inquire, ‘Is the CCC Road open now?’ The reopening of the CCC Road this summer gave a boost to our sales. We’re looking forward to a good fall and expect good traffic right up until the first snow flies and the road closes,” she added.
The store that began in 1869 is still a charming, old-fashioned store with glass display cases, woodstove, penny candy, and good conversation. It still exudes the warmth and history of making connections that many a customer remembers — and that others are delighted to discover.
Pierce’s Store is located at the junction of the Cold River, Northam, and the CCC Roads. For more info. call 802-492-3326.