PROCTOR - The new owner of Proctor's West Street Market is more than happy to take the plunge and go into business for herself. In fact, Rachel Jackson is overwhelmed by the positive feedback and community support she is receiving after taking the helm of the town's popular general store last week.
"I want to thank all the local residents who dropped by," she said. "I was pleased with the first week's sales. People seem happy with the changes, too. It means a lot."
Jackson, a native of Rutland who grew up in North Clarendon, is a resident of Poultney. She said she reached the point in life where she wanted to be her own boss, and get off a financial-career rollercoaster ride that offered either feast or famine depending on the state of the economy.
"I wanted something fun and challenging," she said. "After looking for a finance-related job-so it seemed to me-every two years or so, operating a general store looked like a good move to me."
Jackson has a solid background in business; she is a college graduate and received a master's degree in business from St. Joseph's College. So, her approach to running a country store will be a little more scientific than most.
Despite competition from area box stores and supermarkets, Jackson believes Rutland County's general stores still provide a vital service to local shoppers.
"Sure, there's competition, but I try to pass on my savings to customers. I purchase quality merchandise when it's on sale, so I have everyday low prices that you can compare to Price Chopper," she said. "We're planning a new deli section with a new look, expanding our wine selection, offering new lunch specials, more chef salads, delicious high quality strip steaks, home ground hamburgers, and lots more."
Beer, soda, vitamin/energy drinks, lottery tickets, local newspapers, Thomas Dairy products, fresh Green Mountain Coffee, Super Bowl snacks, as well as other items, round out the market's convenient offerings. Jackson hopes to expand her current "buy local" selections, too, with even more locally produced products from folks such as David and Michelle Parker of North Chittenden.
The West Street Market opened in the 1980s. It was owned successively by the McGarries, Frank LaPenna, Andy and Nancy Crestelli, and most recently by David and Heather Atherton. With that said, the market has been a keystone in the Proctor landscape regardless who is helping behind the counter. It is centrally located and a genuine convenience for residents who prefer not to make the long drive to the West Rutland or Rutland area for needed items.
Joining Jackson behind the counter on various days are Deana Burnham and Jeff Anderson of Proctor, Megan Gangone of Pittsford, and Celia Lisananti and Maureen Ketcham.
Even with a good location and loyal customers, you have to possess the right kind of temperament to make a go of it in Vermont's general-store business. And after just a week behind the counter, it appears that Rachel Jackson has exactly what it takes to succeed-a love of community, an eagle eye for local business, and a good old-fashioned commitment to personal, customer service.
Check it out: West Street Market in Proctor is open for winter hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p..m., Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Telephone: 802-459-3322.