Young store owners determined to revitalize Barnard General StoreChristian Avard / Staff Photo
Jillian Bradley and Joe Minerva have grand plans for the Barnard General Store once it reopens under their management.
Joe Minerva, 27, and Jillian Bradley, 24, said they were eating dinner at a local restaurant when they overheard a conversation about the “young new owners” at the Barnard General Store. Those “young new owners” are Minerva and Bradley and they are excited about the store’s grand opening that will happen by late April, they said.
“They were saying, ‘Yeah, they’re really young, but I don’t know if they’ll pull it off.’ We just sat there and smiled and didn’t say anything,” Minerva said with a laugh.
“Some may be doubtful because of our ages, but I’m excited to prove them wrong,” Bradley added.
Minerva and Bradley were selected by the Barnard Community Trust after they submitted a business plan to reopen the 180-year-old general store. Minerva and Bradley have seven years of grocery store retail experience apiece, Minerva as Richmond Market store manager and Bradley as Richmond Market customer service manager, and they are determined to make the business successful.
“I think it’s going to take a younger generation like us stepping in, not people who want to retire and have an idea of running a general store but lack the experience,” Minerva said. “You need to know the business. We know it.”
Minerva and Bradley have grand plans for the store once it reopens. They will sell fresh cut meats, seafood, and serve breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends.
They invested up to $30,000 in a new freezer, shelving, meat cutting equipment, a fryer and a bulk section and will sell high-and low-end foods for everyone.
“Now you can come here and get chicken and steaks and wine and you’ll be able to buy a complete dinner. You don’t have to drive 12 miles into Woodstock anymore,” Bradley said.
The Barnard community is excited about the store’s new owners. Minerva and Bradley met with community members at an open house earlier this month and listened to their concerns, needs and expectations.
According to Minerva and Bradley, the Barnard General Store’s closing impacted the Barnard community. They realized that Barnard cannot go on without their beloved general store and they would support Minerva and Bradley to remain open and be successful.
Minerva and Bradley not only work together but they have been in a relationship for seven years. Their chemistry has sustained them for a long time and it will be at the forefront once they experience the ups and downs of running a business.
“It’s good to have the support of each other. We’ve been in the business and we know it’s seven days a week and crazy hours,” Bradley said.
“As co-owners we have to do most of the work and not draw large salaries. You just can’t,” he said. “We have to make our $5 an hour and take it for what it is.”
For years, the Barnard General Store was a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. It was one of the longest-operating general stores in Vermont until former store owners Carolyn DiCicco and Kim Furlong closed it due to difficult financial times, poor weather and big-box store competition.
The Barnard Community Trust purchased the store for $500,000 from William Twigg-Smith in January and they received six requests for proposals to operate the Barnard General Store. The top two came down to a group of Barnard locals and Minerva and Bradley.
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