A&P is closing doors next week; Freshtown aims for Feb. opening

Margaretville —  Shoppers found shelves at the Margaretville A & P virtually empty over the holiday weekend as the Bridge Street grocery store prepares to close, making way for a new Freshtown scheduled to open by early February. 
Shoppers were clearly frustrated by the lack of goods in the store, but Freshtown’s Noah Katz, who will lead efforts on the new store, was optimistic that the inconvenience would be short and the MARK Group announced plans for a Buddy System to help anyone who lives without convenient transportation options.
“This will soon be a distant memory,” said Katz, who has been in town meeting with community leaders about plans for the transition.  “We are ready to hit the ground running and get the doors back open again, fully stocked with brand new merchandise as soon as soon as possible.” Katz indicated that by February 1, immediate changes in stock, cash registers and electrical service delivery will be finished and people will be able to get everything they need at the Bridge Street location that has housed a supermarket for more than 40 years.
While Katz expects to do extensive renovations, plans call for standard hours and full stocking “corner to corner” throughout the entire process. “The moment our store opens, it will be better stocked than ever before Katz said.  “The renovation will not impact the assortment for the shoppers as we will do our work a little bit each day, usually at night, so the store can stay open throughout the process.”

MARK Group offers Buddy System
Responding to the real inconveniences for some residents, MARK Group Executive Director Peg Ellsworth announced that MARK has established a Buddy System to be sure everyone gets what they need while the store is closed.  “Although the store closing leaves some uneasy about their ability to stock the cupboards, we survived being without a market for a much longer time after the 1996 floods,” said Ellsworth.  “We all know the bare essentials can be obtained from local convenience stores or the Fleischmanns Supermarket. The Market Basket on Route 28 in Arkville offers additional organic produce, foods, and grain fed beef.”
The lack of a full service grocery store and the absence of public transportation certainly leaves a temporary void and presents an overwhelming challenge to those who are immobile or don’t drive. But Ellsworth suggested that “perhaps the new ‘National Community Service Day’ couldn’t come at a better time for our communities and even more so, we should consider the entire month of January as an opportunity to help neighbors.”
With its Buddy System, MARK will organize a network of community members willing to include a less mobile individual on out-of-town shopping trips or “supermarket excursions.”  Anyone willing to pick up a less mobile individual and take them shopping can register with MARK.  Any person in need of transportation, should also contact MARK to get on the “buddy” list.  Additionally, shoppers who are willing to just do the shopping for another individual may also sign up and be paired with someone who has no other way to get what they need.  “Ideally we hope to get an overwhelming response that will make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Ellsworth.  “Together we can ring in the new year with a true sense of community spirit. For further information contact MARK at 586-3500 or via e-mail at peg@markproject.org.