BRATTLEBORO—After living in Baltimore for 15 years, artists Katie Bachler and Scott Berzofsky have moved back to the Green Mountains and are now running the Avenue Grocery at 82 Western Ave.
Though the two have kept the same corner-store vibe the shop has maintained for over 40 years, they are also integrating some changes.
While you can still buy a pack of cigarettes, lottery tickets, or the cone of soft-serve ice cream regionally known as a creemee, now customers may also purchase organic sauerkraut, local eggs, homemade truffles, and even pottery by local artists.
“We feel like these stores are going by the wayside,” Bachler said. “These spaces are important in these political times.”
“People need spaces for conversation,” she added. “It’s not Amazon. It’s a real place where you bump into people getting the newspaper. The same people come every day, and they have been coming for 40 or 50 years. That’s what matters in this life.”
In addition to selling Tito’s Taqueria’s burritos, delivered warm Tuesday through Friday, the couple has also paired with Ray’s Shoe Repair in Vernon. Avenue Grocery serves as a drop-off and pick-up post for those looking to replace a heel or mend a sole.
“We interviewed people about what they wanted to see in the store, and shoe repair was one of them,” Bachler said.
Bachler and Berzofsky are also maintaining a relationship with Mi Tierra tortillas, which, made from heirloom corn, get delivered fresh to the store every Wednesday morning from western Massachusetts.
Regarding their eclectic inventory, as well as their first-name-basis customer relationships, Berzofsky and Bachler pay great homage to their predecessor, Jean Maclean, who maintained the shop with her two sisters for several years before the two took over.
“The love and care that she put into the store has kind of cultivated this community around it,” Berzofsky said. “You could go anywhere and get your coffee and newspaper, but people come here because it’s a community space.”
“Jean is the one who cultivated that,” he said.