The Joys and Challenges of Running a Country Store
February 16, 2020
At the Warren Store in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, you can find everything from fine wine, hot cider, and deli sandwiches to silver earrings, leather bags, and CBD products.
Running a general store means juggling many tasks at once—tracking inventory, running a cash register, posting on social media, and greeting customers as they walk in the door.
For Jack Garvin—who has worked at the Warren Store for nearly 40 years—it’s also meant being an active community member, making lifelong friends, meeting a celebrity or two, and learning how to outgrow his previously shy nature and become a more outgoing individual.
“There’s a little bit of folklore…they say that Jack came in for a cup of coffee and never left,” he jokes. “It’s not quite like that, but that’s what people say.”
Garvin was born in Newton, Massachusetts and grew up in Waltham, just outside of Boston. He had been following a completely different career path before he started working at the Warren Store in May 1980. He now manages the store.
A Day in the Life at the Warren Store
Located on Main Street in the small town of Warren—near Sugarbush Resort—the Warren Store offers one-stop shopping for locals and visitors, who can stop in for craft beer and organic coffee or cashmere sweaters and wool socks.
The building that houses the store dates back to 1839 when it was constructed as a stagecoach inn and boarding house. Over the years, the building has been used as a post office, local library, funeral parlor, and hardware store.
While running a country store sounds like a dream job, it’s not easy. The margins for running a store are small, and the job is a round-the-clock endeavor. Still, Garvin loves what he does.
“It’s almost a victory if you can break even—it’s very similar to the restaurant business,” he says. “When I say it’s an uphill battle, perhaps, but it’s a very pleasant climb.”
Happy Vermont Podcast: An Interview with Jack Garvin
In Episode 2 of my Happy Vermont podcast, Garvin talks about the challenges and rewards of running a store, and how every day is a little different.
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Special thanks to Pluck for podcast editing and post-production.