Our School mentioned in the Boston Globe!

Our guitar school was recently mentioned in a feature on the Boston Sunday Globe about the Clover Farm General Store.  Read Below for the full article:

Beverly Bukkhegyi of West Groton works on a puzzle at the Clover Farm General Store.

A shop in West Groton where time stands still

By Hattie Bernstein Globe Correspondent  November 27, 2015

WEST GROTON - Clover Farm General Store is a convenience store, yarn shop, guitar school, cafe, paperback book exchange, and purveyor of dime candy.

Knitters gather on Monday afternoons and Thursday evenings, taking their seats at a hand-me-down table where they stitch and banter while the customers trickle in and proprietor Janet Shea excuses herself to ring up a sale.

"He's got to get his sweets and salt for the day," Shea says when the bell over the door jangles and a young man wearing work boots and sporting tattoos comes in for his daily purchases: Gatorade, a large bag of chips, and an ice cream Dove Bar.

Patriotic bunting decorates the storefront windows, a US flag hangs by the entrance, and a table next to the wine rack holds six different local newspapers - another nod to civic pride. And behind the counter, leaning over her knitting, is Shea, shopkeeper, knitting teacher, grandmother to neighborhood kids who know that if they're shy a nickel or a dollar, they'll be trusted to pay up the next time - and they do.

What's also apparent is the absence of 21st century noise: nobody talking on a phone; nobody hunkered down over a laptop; not one ping or ring tone or one-sided conversation, because even though Shea has Wi-Fi, she doesn't advertise it.

"It's the history. It hasn't changed that much," says Jean Cunningham, who attends the Monday knitting group. "It's clean and nice, and in general, the same old building that's been there for so many years."

For 75 years, the building at the crossroads of West Main Street and Townsend and Pepperell roads was the Sherwin Brothers Market. When the Sherwins retired about eight years ago, it became a coffee shop. When that closed in 2012, Shea stepped in and bought the building.

"I wanted it to stay a general store," Shea says.

Shea knew the building well, having worked for 21 years as relief postmaster at the tiny village post office across the street. She also ran a yarn shop in West Groton, so it made sense to teach knitting as well as sell candy in her new space.

But soon, Shea was carrying wine - and claiming the distinction of being "the only knitting store in the country with a beer and wine license."

She also began holding wine tastings, and when she learned a customer, Rob Compagna, was starting a trio and a guitar school, she proposed a barter: If Compagna and his group performed at the wine tastings, Shea would provide space for him to give guitar lessons.

Inventory at the store is modest, but variety prevails. Behind a glass case, near the K-cups and coffee maker, are sandwiches from the Country Butcher and Deli in Groton proper; banana and zucchini breads from a popular local bakery; hard-boiled local eggs; and locally grown peaches.

There's a photo on the piano of the owner's son, Daniel, who died in a car accident 13 years ago; a hand-printed "welcome" written on a chalkboard over the counter; and dozens of knitted scarfs and sweaters along the back wall, all of them labeled with Shea's signature, "Made with love by the Yrn Pedlar."

Up front, when the guitar school isn't in session, customers can choose from a quartet of old, mismatched rocking chairs.

On a late-summer afternoon, four women in her knitting group settle in at the big table in the back of the store.

Conversation begins on a light note. Lobsters on sale at the supermarket. Friends who have lost weight - or gained it. What someone ordered at a nearby steakhouse on Saturday night. Weddings. Babies. Grandchildren. Deaths.

A neighbor stops by to say hello and unburden herself of a recent trauma: On a Friday night, her house in the village was broken into.

"The horrible thing is the aftermath," she says. Faces tighten.

An elderly man walks in, circles the front of the store, and exits like an extra in a play.

"Oh, it's your boyfriend," Pat Nelles, a member of the knitting group, says to Shea.

"We've got some characters in this town," Shea replies, straight as an arrow, not a glimpse of a smile.

Next through the door is a runner dripping with sweat who wants to use her debit card to buy a bottle of water. "Take the water and come back with the dollar," Shea tells her.

Clover Farm General Store is open every day but Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and except for the occasional friend who spells her for an hour here and there, Shea runs the operation alone.

Knitters are welcome between classes, and everyone is invited to knit for charity; Shea delivers anonymously or packs and sends all sorts of items: hundreds of helmet covers sent to service people on active duty; more than 500 hats knitted and sent to Native American reservations in northern New England and lower Canada every year; hundreds of chemo caps and lap robes to hospitals; dozens of scarfs, hats, and mittens to Loaves and Fishes, the local food pantry; and baby booties, sweaters, and caps to agencies that help new mothers with limited means.

"My mother was always giving to people," says Shea, who grew up in Somerville, one of six children. "We were brought up to share."

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at hbernstein04@icloud.com.

Leave a comment

Add comment