PORT HENRY — After 13 months without a local grocery store, Port Henry residents awakened Wednesday to find a Mac's Market had stocked the shelves and quietly opened.Lorraine Easter, 80, who lives in the Lee House Apartments on Main Street, said she quickly got her walker ready and headed for the downtown store when she heard it was open."It is great to see bread products and soup bones," she said as she shopped in the brightly lit store."I'll come every day. It's good to see a grocery store in Port Henry again."
The community hasn't had a grocer in town since Tops Friendly Markets closed in March 2006. Sherman V. Allen Inc., the Rutland, Vt.-based parent company of Mac's Markets, bought the 17,000-square-foot Tops building and has been renovating it and preparing for Wednesday's opening.Mac's Markets President Daniel Dukeshire said the regional chain did what they call a "soft opening," without advertising or even having their sign-up yet. That allows them to work out any kinks, he said, and a full grand opening will probably be scheduled for June.Easter said that when there was no market she had to have her son do her shopping for her at the Plattsburgh Price Chopper."I can't drive. Now I'm independent once more."John Sweet of Port Henry said Mac's Market is filling a community need."The prices are good. Selection is good. We like the store."Many shoppers sought out Store Manager William Hagar to tell him how much they enjoy having a local grocer again. Hagar was manager of the Tops before it closed and agreed to return to run Mac's."The opening is going great," Hagar said as customers greeted him. "I've seen a lot of familiar faces, a lot of shoppers I know."
Port Henry Village Deputy Mayor Linda DuRoss was on hand with other local officials to witness the store's inauguration.
"This is like Christmas," she said. "We have a grocery store again. I can't tell you how great this is."Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava was one of several public officials who worked on getting another market after Tops closed."It was a good day for Port Henry and Moriah," Scozzafava said. "A place like that is a social center. I saw people gathering and talking all over the store."His father, Frank Scozzafava, who was filling a shopping cart, said he stopped by to see what all the commotion was about."This is a beautiful store," he said. "I'm impressed."Many shoppers remarked on the store's open, airy aisles, good product selection and cheerful employees.Besides keeping a deli and meat-cutting department, the store added a natural-foods section and fresh-baked products and expanded the produce section.
Mac's Territorial Manager James Gordon said they tried to hire back as many Tops employees as possible. Out of 35 full- and part-time workers in the new store, 15 worked for Tops, he said.Gordon said they opened all four checkouts Wednesday to accommodate the crowds."We've been very, very busy. We had people waiting when we opened the doors."Mac's owner Sherman V. Allen was at the opening to talk with customers and staff."It's exciting," he said. "This is our first New York market. Hopefully, we'll be here forever."He said the Port Henry Mac's is actually closer to their Rutland headquarters than many of the chain's Vermont and New Hampshire stores."We feel like we're local; we're part of the community. We have some great employees. They did a terrific job getting this store ready."