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Barnard General Store Enjoying New Life

VPR/Steve Zind
Store operator Jillian Bradley with customer Bob Forman at the Barnard General Store which reopened a year ago.

In 2012, after a 180 year run the Barnard General store closed.

In response, a local group raised $500,000 to purchase the building and find someone to run the store.

In May of last year, the store reopened and it appears to be doing well.

The store’s closing hit the community hard and it didn’t take much time for the local residents to get to work on a plan to reopen it.    

The Barnard Community Trust, working with the Preservation Trust of Vermont, raised the money purchase the building and then went in search of someone to lease it and operate the store.

On May 1st last year, the Barnard General Store reopened with a young couple behind the counter.

Joe Minerva and Jillian Bradley worked for the Richmond Market before coming to Barnard.  They live in an apartment above the store.

Minerva says the couple has taken an approach that reflects a more traditional grocery store model, with a nod to contemporary tastes.  Craft beers, seafood and custom cut meats are featured along with everyday necessities.

“We offer steaks cut to order and things like that and expanded grocery items and not so much of the crafty tourist-trap kind of things that a lot of the country stores have gotten involved in now,” says Minerva. “We’re trying to bring it back to shopping for the locals.”

The store serves breakfast and lunch. Minerva says there’s room to grow that end of the business but serving food is labor intensive.

The focus during the first year has been on expanding the grocery selection, which now accounts for about 70 percent of the store’s revenue.

Minerva says there’s been strong local support for since the store reopened. The previous owners had cited lack of local shoppers as one reason for the closing.

Customer and Barnard resident Bob Forman believes there a greater appreciation for the store among local residents, now that they’ve seen what its like without it.

“There’s no question about it. There was nothing left of Barnard when the store was gone,” says Forman.

Rick Carbin, president of the Barnard Community Trust, says he's confident that one year into its new life the store is on a sustainable track.