GLOVER — Jim Currier was sitting amid the taxidermied fauna and woodsy trinkets of his eponymous market when he noticed a man pass by, towing a bag of empty cans across the old tile floor.
“Hey, Ernie,” called out Currier, chatting with the longtime customer.
“Ole Ernie,” the 79-year-old said afterward. “He was spry when I came here.”
He came here — to the general store now known as Currier’s Quality Market — 53 years ago. And soon he’ll be on his way.
Currier has decided to sell his market, the only grocery store in this Orleans County town of 1,100, because of insurance company pressures and his fast-approaching 80th birthday.
If he doesn’t find a buyer by August, he’ll shut the shop down — and with it, a community hub like so many others already lost across the state.
“What will we do without this store?” asked Betsy Day, former president of the Glover Historical Society.
Her husband and current group president, Randy Williams, answered:
“It’s gonna be an empty village. It’s just gonna be a place people live.”
‘Everybody knew my name’
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The metal roof and wide wooden porch of Currier’s Market stand above the main stretch in town. What’s inside has earned the store statewide renown.
Dozens of preserved hunts — bears, bobcats, bucks and more — gaze down from nearly every surface. Tchotchkes rest beneath the glass of wood-lined display cases. Hundreds of photos of successful sportsmen and sportswomen line the walls and ceiling, framed and labelled by year.
In between all the tree-trunk beams and strung-up beehives, guests can find pretty much anything.
“Hardware, sporting goods, school supplies, a full line of meat, produce, groceries,” said Currier. “One-stop shopping, you might say.”
The store, built in 1908, was originally called Roy E. Davis’ Brown Egg Store, according to Joanie Alexander, another historical society member. Later it became Walcott and Lyon’s, and then just Walcott’s, before Currier bought the building in 1967 with his late wife, Gloria, and his parents, Maynard and Jessie.
From the outset, the goal was to give Glover’s residents everything they needed, right there in town.
Take a customer who recently came looking for a hinge.
“I know it sounds stupid — simple — but the fact is, he came here because he needed a hinge,” said Currier. “And he got it.”
Currier himself tends to keep mum about the history of the market. But he revealed one driver: people. “You don’t want to be in the business if you don’t like ‘em,” he said. “And I always did.”
Throughout a recent morning at the store, the red-aproned shopkeeper paused to greet passersby. Like Ernie with his bottles, who he bantered with about the cooling weather. Or Lynn, who he told he’d drop his truck off for later. Or Judy, who he checked in with about the quality of some sirloin.
Those kinds of intimate relationships with customers are a reason Currier’s Market has built up such a following over the decades.
“My first instance of walking into Currier’s, I was just surprised on how everybody knew my name,” said Toni Eubanks, director of the town library for the last 16 years. “Like when you walk through the aisles, all you hear is, ‘Hi, Toni! Hi, Toni! Hi, Toni!’”
The Currier family has seen generations grow, and the community has watched them grow in turn. Jim and Gloria’s children — Jeff, Julie and Shari — all grew up and worked in the store. For years the family lived upstairs in one of two apartments; Jim’s parents lived in the other. Jeff Currier, alongside his wife Windy, still helms the deli.
“It’s wonderful,” the elder Currier said. “I mean, I can go back and tell you people who lived on Shadow Lake who are long gone.”
‘The high point of the community’
The store has acted as the center of the community in many ways, said Williams, the historical society president.
“It is a gathering place,” he said. “Even though you might be able to get your goods cheaper somewhere else … people like to shop where they feel recognized and part of a little commercial family.”
It helps that Glover’s post office has been at the back of the store for as long as Currier can remember.
People come from afar, too.
The market’s taxidermy collection — starred by a full moose prominently displayed in front of the post office — is known across the state. In 2010, as part of a retailer of the year award, the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association produced a short documentary about Currier’s that lauded it as “a store that everyone wants to visit.”
“It’s a store that has the best of Vermont products,” said the announcer in the video, “and the biggest museum of mounts and horns and racks and just about every animal that ever existed in Vermont.”
When Eubanks, the library director, talks to out-of-town visitors, she suggests they stop by the store.
“I’m not going to tell you why, but wander around the whole store and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about,” she tells them.
Day, with the historical society, recalled conversations with people who’d travel far to Glover to do their meat shopping at Currier’s.
“Because that was the best butcher, the best meat, that they could get,” she said. “We have a reputation far and wide, and Currier’s Market is like the high point of the community.”
Could join a dying breed
It was a hard decision to move on, said Currier.
“Like a lot of people now, we’re feeling bad that we’re leaving,” he said. “They hate to see us leave, hate to see me retire and give up — quit.”
But he said his insurance company has taken issue with many of the quirks that make the store stand out — like the wood boiler in the basement, or the guns he used to sell. He said his family wouldn’t be able to afford the upgrades needed to make the company happy. That’s the main reason he’s hanging up the keys.
And with his 80th birthday this month, he figured it was a good time to move on anyway.
He said he’s waiting on an appraisal before putting out a sale price, but so far one person is already interested in buying.
If a buyer doesn’t come through, his shop could join the growing list of general stores boarding up statewide in recent years, including one in nearby Albany that’s been closed since 2013. Two years ago, residents of that town formed a trust to raise money to reopen the store. Day and Williams of the historical society wonder if the same could happen in Glover.
Currier hopes the shop is preserved in some way. His and others like it hold a special value in their communities.
“You can hop in your car and get anywhere now and go to a big box store,” he said. “They’re modern, clean, all kinds of goods.”
But what don’t they have?
He smiled wide. “Well, maybe some personality.”
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