A Store is Born (or ... re-born)

A Store is Born (or ... re-born)

Cameron (Cam) Gregory, the new owner of the Village Store in Thetford Center and Baker’s Store in Post Mills, is no stranger to the realm of business. It’s in the family. He is the nephew of former owner Mike Pomeroy. He also holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in business studies from Westminster College in Utah and is now finishing up his doctoral dissertation in Business Administration and International Business from Liberty University in Virginia.

From his roots in Massachusetts, Cam and his wife, Kathleen, traveled far, living in Australia for six years, then in Virginia for a year, before gravitating to Vermont. Cam related that “down under” they lived in Alice Springs, a remote town in the continent’s northern territory. The nearest cities were over 900 miles away. Relocating to Chantilly, VA, about 25 miles from Washington, DC, was quite a shock. It was more “big city” than they could take. The opportunity to come to Vermont was a godsend they could not pass up.

The reopening of the Village Store on March 1st of this year came after much preparation. The building was repainted inside and out, and the natural wood floor oiled. Cam also paneled over an old door at the back near the walk-in cooler and moved the wine section to the front corner by the door. As expected, the first week was rather quiet, but Cam reports that customer traffic is growing every day. The presence of the post office in the rear of the building really helped. People soon switched from using the outside back door to reach the Post Office to entering through the store. Cam expects customer traffic will increase into the summer.

There won’t be major changes in what’s offered.  Cam sees the business remaining as a convenience store and local market that offers staples like eggs, milk, basic groceries, and cleaning products. He is working on offering more locally made specialties including jams, sauces, maple products, and cookies.  The crafts display is temporarily absent while Cam tracks down former and new vendors. Crafts are definitely a niche market. To Cam it’s not so much about the sales as “showcasing local artisans and their work.”

It is also important to him that the Village Store provides “a local hangout with the vibe of a local store.”  Offering the traditional hot coffee in white disposable cups is more than a service; it inspires residents to linger and chat.

The heritage gas pumps are also unlikely to change. They are owned by CITGO, the brand name of Global, the corporate distributor. Cam explained that village stores are the lowest priority in Global’s portfolio and the corporation is moving away from this sector. To replace a single gas pump costs between $15,000 and $30,000 and the company is unlikely to recoup its investment over the lifetime of that pump. So they will not upgrade the equipment.

When asked about the desire of some residents to have a food truck on the village green, Cam replied that he was not opposed.  However it would have to be thought through carefully, as to what days of the week and a rotation of different vendors, since a food truck usually sells only one kind of food. It would most likely also sell drinks and chips that people would otherwise buy at the Village Store.

Cam’s biggest ambition is to continue Mike Pomeroy’s legacy. He hopes he can be “half as good as Mike” at running the store and being involved in the community.