Jennifer Grantham, who wants to go local in the produce, foods, and art her store carries, says, "There's so much to build upon." Photos by Richard W. Dionne Jr.
The new owner, Jennifer Grantham, has moved to instill a new look, and a decidedly local and organic approach towards the store’s offerings. The store, she says, will be celebrating it’s grand opening on Saturday, June 14, from 4 to 6 p.m..
Ms. Grantham herself lives nearby in Westport, as does the store’s new general manager, Jody Cote, who brings 35 years’ of experience at Lees Market in Westport, where she most recently served as general manager until new ownership there reorganized the place.
Though her approach may be new, the establishment Ms. Grantham is now running has a history. It’s been a presence at the location continuously since about 1890.
“We want it to be clean, bright, and inviting,” said Jennifer Grantham, of her new endeavor.
With no increase in overall square footage, walls and floor-standing freezers have been removed from the Simmons Cafe and Market building, creating more space for merchandise along the front end, where shelves are “stuffed to the brim,” Ms. Grantham said.
Space in the rear of the building has been opened up for a cafe and sandwich shop, where half a dozen tables and chairs and two small sofas and coffee tables are now arranged.
The focus is local, said Ms. Grantham. “There’s so much availability of local fresh food and products and art. There’s so much to build upon. We want to support our local businesses and neighbors,” she said.
“When we talk about local and global environmental, social, and political issues, it seems the right step to take to focus my energy on an establishment like this,” she said.
Ms. Grantham has a masters in business administration (in managing for sustainability) from Marlboro College Graduate School in Brattleboro, Vermont.
“I enjoy project design and management,” she said. “Small, corner shops like this are really important,” she said. “I can say with 99 percent confidence you will not find a product here made, produced, or processed in China.”
On Friday morning, Ms. Grantham spent an hour or two discussing arrangements with a new ice cream supplier from Hadley, Massachusetts — Maple Valley Ice Cream (“If they say it’s local, ask to see their cows”) — to deliver ice cream to her market. The market also serves as a convenience store, she says, selling newspapers (local, regional, and a few national), and lottery tickets.
Ms. Grantham said the store offers a full selection of local flowers, organic vegetables, and locally raised meats and dairy products.
Also on display are arts and craft from local artists.
The deli area in back serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and soups, baked goods (muffins, cookies), all homemade, as well as espresso, coffee and tea — all organic as well.
We want to offer chemical and pesticide free products, she said.
“I think there’s a demand in the market. There’s an awareness of the benefits of eating healthy and well and having access to products that are non-toxic.”
For the last approximately 15 years, the F.A. Simmons Store (as it was then known) was owned and operated by Ralph Borden and Jennifer (Jenn) Holewka. They closed the store Dec. 31, 2013, making way for the new management to take over.
Shortly after purchasing the store last winter, Ms. Grantham said. “We hope to maintain the historical elements of the store and village.”
The store has 10 employees, Ms. Grantham said.
Simmons Market and Cafe will be open seven days per week, she said, from 7 a.m . to 7 p.m.. During the summer the store will be open later in the evening to sell ice cream.