Kevin Christofora of Woodstock meats realized the shock his store’s closing this week would have on the town he’s grown up in, and watched grow and change over the counter his father took over from local butcher Jerry Simonetti some 40 years ago. But such things happen when a business changes hands, as occurred at a long-postponed closing Wednesday afternoon.
“Monday we did our inventory and as soon as the closing’s complete, our employees will be back with the new owners helping to re-stock the entire store… and re-opening on Friday like I never left,” Christofora said this week. “I moved back to town and took over the store back in 2000, at the new millennium. My father said he was getting ready to sell the place in November, 1999 and I looked at my wife back in New Jersey where we were living and asked whether she’d like to move back home and she said no. But then she cried a bit and said yes and we moved back up here and on January 1, 2000 — when all the computers didn’t crash. I went through the whole store and inventoried everything, and then took over the next day on January 2, 2000.”
Now owning Woodstock Meats, which will retain its name, telephone numbers, vendors, suppliers, website and staff, with Orin Shands as manager, will be Onteora graduates Nels Leader and Dave Majuri, alongside their friend Ian Martin, who has long kept a home in the area.
“Dave actually worked in the store for a week when he was in college,” Christofora recalled. “Nels has worked for years with his father’s company, Bread Alone.”
Christofora added that he’s spent the last weeks helping Woodstock Meats’ new owners update all the store’s orders, and even worked out a deal so they can keep the historic Anton Refrigier mural on a main wall until they can find new art.
“That’s my father’s, but it seems the Woodstock School of Art will help the store get four new panels to replace it,” he added. “The piece, I’ve heard, was originally one of two made for some old A&Ps in the area, which ended up turning them down. One ended up here and the other, I’ve been told, is now in Italy. Andre Neher remembers cutting all the pieces for it and helping Anton paint and place them…”
Asked the amount Woodstock Meats sold for, Christofora demurred. But then was quick to note how he was planning to get his own resume out for new work, hopefully in the area, in the coming weeks after a short time off. “Hopefully someone out there is looking for my skills,” Christofora said, noting his years in packaging and marketing at Estee Lauder/Revlon, and ability to “get things done.” “I’m ready for something new.”
And there are the bittersweet elements of the sale of a business his father, Vincent Sr., ran following 25 years work as a butcher for Grand Union and took over after owning his own business in Olive. Christofora talked about what it was like to see so many local faces daily…to have used his job to raise a family and run local events from the annual New Year’s Eve party for kids to Little League.
“I watched them tear down the Grand Union and all the protests that caused, a bunch of changes on the town board, the new highway garage go up, all the stuff around the community center and the library, and plenty of new shops come and go in town,” he said. “The thing I learned is that change is always constant, but that no matter what happens, it always comes back to the fact that you can sell anything to anyone in the summer here but a business’ real strength comes down to catering to the local business.”
In the coming months, we’ll check in with the new owners.