POWNAL – The sign above the entrance to Pownal Market & Deli still reads Village Market & Video, but the store owner is confident that no one is confused by the late name or drawn inside by the promise of rental of records and video cassettes. The last rented movie was released in 2015. It was never returned.
“Everyone knows where I am, who I am and what’s in the store,” said Jeffrey Egan. It was just after 6 p.m. on a recent Tuesday night – about an hour before closing and 11 hours after Egan started her shift.
This familiarity with the community, he explained, is also the reason the market doesn’t have a website. He believes an online presence would bring few additional customers to 300 US Route 7. The purpose of this place, hung with banners, posters and backlit signage for soft drinks, cigarettes, ice packs and more. lottery tickets, is clear when viewed from the Autobahn.
“Probably 90 percent of the customers who come here are people I see all the time,” Egan said. “Most of them, I know them by name. I know their families. I know their children. I know their parents, which is really, really great.
Headlights flashed through the window behind the sales counter as a car entered the parking lot. A man walked in, said a few words to Egan, and walked over to the coolers in the back to retrieve a gallon of milk. The man, who looked tired, whispered a few more words to Egan before taking his purchase and leaving.
The store owner sees many of the same customers every day. He expects some of them more than once.
“There are people I see on my way to work and when they get home,” Egan said. On weekdays, he explained, the busiest hours in the market are between 7 and 9 a.m. and again between 4 and 6 p.m.
During the off-peak period after the morning rush hour, Egan cuts cold meats and makes sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon, he meets vendors or vendors. There is always something going on in the store, and the owner said his half-day shifts go surprisingly fast.
“Sometimes I can’t even believe the time,” he said.
Egan has frequented this retail establishment for several of his 50 years. When he was little, his family spent summers, vacations and weekends in the area. His relatives lived about a three-minute walk from the store, which has gone by various names since it opened in the early 1960s.
“I used to walk here and buy my candy,” Egan recalls. He smiled then and shook his head. “When I was 10, I would go to the store with a note and buy cigarettes for my grandmother. “
He now lives nearby, in a house that belonged to his great-great-grandparents.
In 2013, while standing in the store and complaining about his job as a restaurant supervisor at a ski resort, the former owner asked Egan if he would be interested in taking over Pownal Market. Yes, he replied, he was interested.
“I had been fed up with my job for a while and couldn’t wait to quit,” Egan said.
With the purchase of the store, Egan was careful not to change the elements of what made a successful business. He expanded the wine and beer selection and brought an assortment of consignment items, including woodwork by local artist Sonny Friend.
He made sure his Pownal Market & Deli always had everything a convenience store needed: lottery tickets, candy, cigarettes, sandwiches and groceries.
“All of this contributes to profitability,” Egan said. “Everything counts. “
The store is open seven days a week. During the week, it is open from 7 am to 7 pm. Saturdays and Sundays, the store opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Egan worked almost every shift when he took over the store eight years ago. It was a way to cut expenses.
Three other people are now on the payroll. The store remained busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Business has been very good,” Egan said. “I really can’t complain. “
The market continued to offer DVD rentals until 2015. Egan said the rental income did not make up for the hassle of asking people to return their discs late. The small section of the store where the DVDs were displayed has been reused and now contains shelves of T-shirts and sweatshirts, as well as other consignment merchandise.
The last DVD rental, according to Egan, was “American Sniper”. Six years later, this asset remains extracted from the market. And the shopkeeper who sees many familiar faces during his work days won’t be making waves in Pownal by demanding his return.
“Oh,” Egan said with a laugh, “I know who has it. “