At last: Winooski grocery shoppers will soon have a new option. Owner Michael Hughes says the third location of Commodities Natural Market, located in Keen's Crossing, should be open in early December. The store was originally slated to open in the summer, but a permitting holdup led to delays in construction.
CNM originated in New York City's East Village in 1993 and expanded to Stowe in 2015. Hughes says the goal of each site is to offer products that reflect the community's needs. Compared with the other, smaller locations, the 3,300-square-foot Winooski space will allow for "more bulk herbs and spices ... and ethnic prepared foods" to reflect the diverse makeup of the town, he says.
How will Hughes know what people are looking for? "The single best way to cultivate the right product mix is to ask the customers what they want," he says. He also likes to solicit feedback via email, Facebook and an in-store suggestion box: "We try to get ourselves really immersed in the community."
Hughes promises that CNM's wares, from fancy chocolate bars to local meats to "basic organic staples," will be "aggressively priced." He also suggests he's familiar with the territory. Although the East Village has 70,000 people to Winooski's 7,000, Hughes says, "The breakdown of who lives there is not that dissimilar."
As Henry James writes in The Portrait of a Lady, "there are few hours in life more agreeable" than afternoon tea. Tea devotees like him may appreciate a new series of hands-on educational tea tastings at Stone Leaf Teahouse in Middlebury's Marble Works. Starting the second week in October, each bimonthly class will feature a different tea topic: an in-depth look at green tea from the Zhejiang Province of China, for instance, or a sampling of fresh loose-leaf varietals from Japan, Taiwan, India and Nepal.
Upcoming classes will be posted at stoneleaftea.com and may be reserved via phone or email.