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Old store, new owners

Texas couple takes helm of Newfane Market

NEWFANE—Caroline Eisenhood and Keith Richards are the new owners and operators of the venerable Newfane Market, a store that has been in the village center in one form or another since 1825.

Jim Borta who, along with his wife Pat, have run the store for the past 12 years, turned it over to Eisenhood and Richards on Monday.

The general store has long been a local hangout for gossip, groceries and newspapers. Under the Bortas, the store expanded to include a deli and a generous selection of pastries and, in season, locally made gelato.

The Bortas are moving to Charlotte, N.C., where they’ll stay with one of their two daughters and grandchildren until they find a house to buy, Jim said.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “We made a lot of nice friends here. “We loved the quietness of the town and the people and the friendliness. I would say the only real drawback was just the long days.”

But, he pointed out, it’s their seven-year-old Airedale, Sage, that draws the most comment about their departure. Sage often rested on the floor near the front door and was nice to everyone. People driving through Newfane often saw Borta walking Sage across the street on the grass in front of the Windham County Sheriff’s Department headquarters.

“She’s gonna miss a few neighborhood dogs and cats,” Borta added.

The new owners, apart from getting to know the town and their customers, are getting married July 21 at the Newfane Congregational Church on the Common.

“We’ll have takeout cake in the store,” Richards said.

Between them they have five children, two sons belonging to Richards, and three daughters belonging to Eisenhood. One of the sons, Thomas, 19, is helping at the store now.

The couple found the market via Google.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to work more hours and get less money?’ and the Newfane Market popped right up,” Richards said.

Eisendrath, in her 40s, majored in radio, TV, and film at the University of Maryland and worked in production for four years. She was working in finance for a software company in Connecticut before coming to Vermont.

Richards, in his 50s, was an executive in the oil business, mostly in Texas, before coming to Newfane.

The couple chose Vermont for all the reasons people choose Vermont — the quiet lifestyle, the nice people, and the beauty of its rural landscape.

“We decided on neutral territory three years ago and when we found this store for sale – it was my dream,” Richards said.

A voluble, humorous and expansive man, Richards appears to relish his new responsibilities, making easy conversation with customers. Somewhat more restrained, Eisendrath also is nevertheless easy and friendly.

Several people asked about the employees and were glad to learn that Roberta Dunham will be staying on at the cash register, as well as doing whatever else needs doing,

“Also, Liz and Adam, - I forget their last names, will be staying on in the deli,” Richards reported.

Besides a day or two of no liquor sales as they process a new state license, the couple expect to carry on the store’s traditions and its general store inventory.

“This is a well-run store,” Richards remarked. “We are not making any plans for major changes – no marching bands.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #156 (Wednesday, June 13, 2012).

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