Something good has happened in this village.
I live in a village. Not really a town, although my town is taxed with another town under a single “Town of…” umbrella. There are allegedly several hundred people here in Parts West, but they certainly don’t all live in the village.
There is no traffic light. There is a post office and a firehall. And until late last year, there was what some would call a general store, but what I would call a convenience store, tucked into an old building that used to be by the railroad tracks back when there were railroad tracks. Let’s call it Barney’s (for the sake of irony).
Perhaps in this way I’ve clearly been an outsider in this slate town: I almost never went to Barney’s. The place had none of the charm of the quintessential Vermont country store. It was dirty and dusty and smoky, and there was very little in there that I needed (the occasional fishing license, a propane tank refill). In fact, I almost never even thought of Barney’s for emergency purchases. Instead, we’d drive the 5 miles to the grocery store.
A couple of neighbors, when Barney’s closed, desperately missed its convenience for wine and beer. Likely it was a long dark winter for them.
One day, at yoga, a woman from a neighboring town asked me what I knew about the new owners. As I’m an editor chained to her computer in her home office fewer than a dozen buildings away from Barney’s, of course I knew nothing. I didn’t even know there were new owners. What did she know? Two guys, she said, and maybe one would be selling meats.
Work began at Barney’s: cleanup, construction, painting. And then something extraordinary: two twisty topiaries appeared, one on either side of the steps. The collective gasp of the ex-city chicks and village gays was very nearly deafening.
Will and Eric opened in August, right before I left for vacation. The place is transformed. (Of course, as several have noted, “clean” passes for “transformed.”) The boys are doing a good job of catering to the old customer base while batting their eyelashes at the new. That is, Barney’s is essentially still a convenience store with a deli counter—but check out the Vermonty perks: Fresh Rupert Rising bread. Consider Bardwell cheese. Pastries in the morning and Green Mountain Coffee in thermos pump pots. Wilcox black raspberry ice cream in the freezer. And someday, soon, beer and wine again.
I don’t often frequent convenience store–type places, so I keep looking for ways to patronize these guys (without gaining too much weight). The other night Alison was over for dinner, and we sent Tim to pick up some Chesster ice cream sandwiches (they carry them!) for dessert. Tim made the trip à la longboard, and apparently Will took it for a spin.
Barney’s: A phoenix has risen from the ashes.