Saturday July 27, 2013

NEWFANE -- Justin Fitzpatrick is new to the retail business.

But he didn't hesitate to take a chance on running the historic Newfane Market when he heard that the business might be in trouble.

"The truth is, I don't know if I can make it go," Fitzpatrick said Thursday as he sat at a picnic table outside the store.

"But I know what the outcome will be if it doesn't succeed," he said. "And I'm willing to take that risk because of what this store means to the community."

The market, on Route 30 in Newfane Village, carries a wide variety of everyday items as well as baked goods and prepared foods at a popular deli.

Fitzpatrick, a native of Bernardston, Mass., and a Newfane resident for the past four years, is well aware of the business' history.

"It's been here since 1825," he said, adding that, "just in the little time I've been here, I've come to have a relationship with this store."

So when he overheard a few months ago that the business was struggling, Fitzpatrick approached then-owner Keith Richards and asked about its availability.

He officially took over this month as the business's owner, though he continues to lease the market space.

"Long story short, we ended up striking a deal," Fitzpatrick said.

With Richards having bought the market in June 2012, Fitzpatrick is the business' second new owner in little more than a year.


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And the military veteran and single father says small businesses such as general stores may be "in a downswing" overall.

"Our culture has changed," Fitzpatrick said. "Thirty or 40 years ago, people depended on the local shops for all their needs."

But he believes there still is enough loyalty to Newfane's market to keep the business going.

"It really is your community store," Fitzpatrick said. "When people come in here, you have a conversation with the person behind the counter and the other people in the store."

There are many things that won't change at Newfane Market, from the creaky wooden floor to well-known cashier Roberta Dunham, who has worked almost 13 years at the store.

But Fitzpatrick has tweaked some aspects of the business, starting with expanded hours: The market now is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

He also has slightly shifted the store's layout and made changes to the deli operation.

"We've added some specials," Fitzpatrick said. "We've brought in some new products."

With busy Route 30 not far from his front door, Fitzpatrick hopes to capture some out-of-town customers. But he believes his bread-and-butter business will be repeat visits from Newfane-area residents.

"The community in this area is what makes it special," he said. "My main goal is to cater to the locals to the greatest extent that I can."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.