Brattleboro to Newfane

Today’s ride took me from Brattleboro up to Newfane and back, a ride totalling about 24 miles. To tie this in to the Challenge theme, we have a bit of history with Newfane, since we lived and worked there from 2002 to 2016. Here’s the story.

Back in 2002, our family was living in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had been working for IBM for 24 years as a software engineer, where I had started right after college. Marilyn and I actually met while working together at IBM. Our son, the oldest of the two kids, had gone off to college the previous year. Our daughter was graduating from high school and heading off to college in the fall. Marilyn and I were both kind of tired of living in suburbia, and we were looking for a change. And, we were definitely looking to avoid ’empty nest syndrome’. So, we decided to do something completely crazy. I quit my job, and we bought a country store in a small town in southern Vermont, knowing nothing about running a store, and very little about the area we were moving to. But, I had always had a desire to live in Vermont, and Marilyn had always wanted to run a store. So, we just did it. Here’s the store as it looked in the fall of 2002.

Newfane Country Store, Fall 2002

We ended up running the store for almost 13 years, closing it near the end of 2014. We finally sold the building in 2016, and moved to Brattleboro. It has since reopened under a new name, and here is what it looks like today.

Fayetteville Corner, 2020

Running a store was one of the more interesting experiences in our lives, certainly something very different than I’ve ever done before. I’m glad to have done it, but also very glad I’m not running a business today.

Here’s just a few more pictures of some of the historic buildings in Newfane.

Newfane Congregational Church
The Four Columns Inn
Newfane Union Hall

The cover picture, by the way, is of the Windham County Courthouse. And to keep this all bike-related, note my bike leaning against the leftmost column of the courthouse.

Newly retired guy who likes to ride his bike in Vermont. Well, actually retired in 2016, so not really 'newly' at this point.

11 response to "Brattleboro to Newfane"

  1. By: Scooter Posted: June 13, 2020

    Great story! What a dramatic change to the life script. I would surely go broke if I tried running a store or a BnB, or really anything that required me to be socially responsive on a regular basis.

    On a side note, it’s nice to have been reminded about one of my favorite French films, Jean de Florette, about an urbanite who tries to make a go of farming in rural Provence.

    • By: BobinVT Posted: June 13, 2020

      It was a challenge for sure. At that time, I had the stereotypical programmer personality, probably more comfortable with code than people. When we bought the store, I had figured I would do mostly back-end stuff, maintenance, office work, etc. Things rarely go as planned. I ended up spending many, many hours behind the cash register and helping customers. All in all, it was a good thing. Definitely helped me grow as a person.

      • By: Bill Stone Posted: June 13, 2020

        Good post, Bob. Are you saying that if I buy a country store I might eventually become less engaged with code and more engaged with people? If so, please don’t mention this to my ace support crew. 😉

        • By: BobinVT Posted: June 13, 2020

          I’m sure I’ve regressed since selling the store. I need to get ready for my Grumpy Old Man days.

      • By: BobinVT Posted: June 13, 2020

        Well, the recommended ‘Move to Vermont’ movies have to be Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, Baby Boom with Diane Keaton, and my favorite almost unknown movie, Nosey Parker, which truly captures Vermont life.

  2. By: Suzanne Posted: June 14, 2020

    That life change must have taken a lot of guts! Glad it was a success. You must have had a plan B, though.

    • By: BobinVT Posted: June 14, 2020

      Um, well… I guess plan B was that one of us (probably me) would go back to work at a real job if necessary. As it turned out, I decided after a few years I needed some additional intellectual stimulation, so I went back and got my masters degree, and then taught part time at a couple of local colleges, while still doing the store thing as well. So, I I guess plans A and B sort of merged. It was a busy time.

  3. By: The Navigator Posted: June 14, 2020

    That’s a great story! The upkeep on that building would have been too daunting for me to consider purchase. I am not handy! I had forgotten how tall some church steeples in the US can be! (more daunting maintenance)

    • By: BobinVT Posted: June 15, 2020

      It definitely gave me a chance to improve my meager carpentry skills!

  4. By: Alchemyrider Posted: July 1, 2020

    What a feel-good story.

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