DUMMERSTON — The prior operator of the Sunoco gas station at Exit 4 of I-91 has moved to Texas and the new owners have new plans for its future
This has been a bittersweet goodbye or "see you later" for Assim Sherwani, who leased the building from Sandri Realty for the past 10 years. Sherwani, originally from Pakistan, moved to Vermont in 2006 after living in Houston for eight years, but of all the 20-plus states he has visited, he said New England is the prettiest and that locals were nothing but kind to him.
"Thank you very much to all the people who helped me as a customer and as a friend," said Sherwani, in a phone interview. "I just wanted to say thanks to all the people for everything, because you know, your customers become family."
Sherwani gave his notice to Sandri at the beginning of March of this year and he had his official last day on Thursday, March 31. President of Sandri Realty, based in Greenfield, Mass., Mike Behn said they have scrambled to bring the site up to their standards.
"We moved on it as quickly as possibly; we're cleaning it up with new gondolas, shelves and floors and we're painting and stocked up," said Behn. "We rushed at it and missing a few permits right now, but hope to be opening next week by Wednesday."
Behn added they will have more inventory than before and are adding handicap spaces. As for a long-term goal, Behn said they hope to install a Dunkin Donuts by the summer of 2017, however he said according Act 250 there are some barriers to putting in a drive-thru.
According to Behn, they are staffing 10 employees, including the prior employees. They are also looking to hire more, and applications can be submitted next week to the new manager, Tina Mowrey, an employee of Sandri. Mowrey is a former manager at the Alliance site in West Chesterfield, N.H., and she managed Sunoco in Jamaica.
"We hope to provide folks in town what they're used to getting and much, much more," said Behn.
Sherwani noted that his work was challenging because when he moved to Vermont in May 2006, he took over the business, but his supposed business partner did not help him.
"It took me a year and half to learn the business and then the recession happened in 2008," said Sherwani.
Despite and difficulties along the way with the economy plus robberies and simply learning how to run a business, he said the people of Putney and surrounding towns helped him get through it.
"It was very challenging, but I loved the customers and area, and everyone has been very kind and generous and helpful in every aspect," said Sherwani.
Vermont was the place where Sherwani saw foliage, skied and ice skated for the first time. It was also the place where his daughter, 13 and son, 11 rode horses, joined swim team, tried figure skating, joined the ice hockey team and generally grew-up. However he noted that his wife did not enjoy winter activities and winters became very tough for her because of this. Out of respect and with good intentions for his wife's state of mind, he and his family will move to Houston.
"I almost cried, when I left Vermont," said Sherwani. "I'll be coming back Monday to do a few things before I leave and there are a few people I didn't say goodbye to like some friends and customers."
Sherwani said he is not certain what he will do for work in Houston, but said he may partner up with his brother.
Sandri has obtained a liquor, tobacco and lottery license and is waiting on permits, such as their electrical inspection and certificate of occupancy from the state fire Marshall's office. Behn said they will open once they have these licenses and they are aiming to be open to the public, Wednesday, April 13.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275