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Business steps into the future with a nod to the past ADVERTISEMENT

Business steps into the future with a nod to the past

More than a century ago, families who lived in the hills surrounding Burdett came "downtown" to Burdett by wagon and the occasional Ford to do their weekly shopping. It was an opportunity to get the necessities they didn't grow themselves and to socialize a little with their neighbors. Once again, with the "soft" opening of the Burdett Exchange: Meat and Mercantile at 3830 Willow Street, Burdett, people can do this again. This new business is located at the former home of the Burdett Fire Company, which moved to its new digs at the edge of the village in 2018.
According to Burdett village historian Martha "Marty" Evans, a century ago, the spot where the building stands was the site of a man-made pond, created when Cranberry Creek--now known as Hector Falls Creek-- was diverted to power a mill. But in the aftermath of widespread flood damage in 1935, the pond was filled in. The creek was returned to its original course, with the help of engineers and a lot of labor, and the land given to the village for the fire company, which erected a two-story building on that site in 1948.
When they moved to their new building, the village board and the Burdett Fire Company were united in their determination that the new owners would be an asset to the community. With Johnathan Wasson and Lindsey Wratten, they achieved that. Wasson, the third-generation farmer working at Arcangeli Farms, filled out a lengthy questionnaire before being allowed to move ahead with the purchase of the building.
He and his fiancée, Wratten, who is often seen in a pharmacist's white coat at CVS Pharmacy in Watkins Glen, went to work renovating the building, which he describes as being in "excellent shape." The upstairs was modernized to become an apartment for the pair. The former garage area that once housed fire trucks was renovated as well. A new sign went up and part of the former Fire Company sign was rescued and prominently displayed indoors. During the summer, a self-service farm-stand offered passers-by fresh produce mostly grown on their farm.
They opened their doors to welcome customers inside the weekend before Thanksgiving. The store is currently open Fridays from noon to 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 p.m.
The lower floor, now paneled in new wood and decorated with antique farm and garden implements, sports an industrial chic with exposed ductwork, two new sectional garage doors whose glass windows let in a lot of natural light, and the original concrete floor. You can still see the lanes painted on the floor to guide fire trucks to their berths. Two large, glass-fronted coolers line part of the back wall. One is a refrigerator holding milk, eggs, cheese and produce, the other is a freezer displaying an array of farm-produced meats from Arcangeli Farms. Fresh baked stuff from Glen Mountain Market lines a broad shelf by the cash register.
In the lead-up to the holidays, they sold blown-glass ornaments by local glass artist George Kennard, leatherwork by Uncle Joe (Ciccone)'s Saddlery, and pottery by Angela Cartwright. There are also photographic greeting cards by Mecklenburg photographer Meg Gage and locally-made soaps and lotions.
They currently showcase locally-grown, seasonal vegetables, dairy, eggs and a few crafts from more than 20 producers, with an average of two new vendors added every week. All meat is grown at the Arcangeli Farms, and butchered in Dundee, with at least 15 different pork options and 30 different beef choices, with their chicken soon to be added. "And we have more than what's shown," Wasson says. Customers can easily talk with him about their needs - he's there when the store is open.
And from all accounts, they're happy to have this new resource. Glenn and Kelly Prince--future residents of Burdett who come regularly from New Jersey to work on their new home here--stopped at the produce stand every time they're in town and now stock up at the store to take food home with them. "I liked the produce stand," Glenn says appreciatively. "Everything's all awesome."
"Definitely a great add to the area," Kelly seconds.
"I've bought meat, cheese, bread and Christmas decorations," says Evans. "They're very welcome here. I am so excited. I love the stuff he has and it means I can shop locally."
They plan on a grand opening on Mother's Day weekend. Find out more about the Burdett Exchange online on their Facebook page and Instagram.

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