Valley Bounty: North Hadley Market
Shelly Boisvert wishes more people understood just how much the North Hadley Market has to offer, and that the effort is all for us. “We felt our community lacked something — a true general store,” she says. So they started one, and it’s become a hub in our local food economy.
The market, which she owns with her husband, Joe, is one arm of the Boisvert family business that also includes maple sugaring (the North Hadley Sugar Shack) and other farming and retail endeavors.
What began as a seasonal farm stand seven years ago has grown into a full-service, year-round fixture, akin to the general stores that long anchored small town squares in New England. Here people can find almost anything they truly need, all in one place.
“Without coming into the store, you don’t realize,” Shelly says. “But when people visit for the first time, they say ‘Wow, I never knew you guys had all this stuff!’”
Like many local grocers, the market is an important central sales point for nearby food producers. For shoppers, it’s a great place to choose from a large selection of the region’s best.
This starts with fresh fruits and veggies that rotate seasonally, but also includes milk from nearby Mapleline Farm, as well as beef, chicken and pork from animals the Boisverts raise themselves just up the road. Then there are the locally made snacks and condiments. “We’re talking jams, dressings, popcorn, honey, coffee … the list goes on,” Shelly says.
It’s like a farmers’ market every day.
In recent years, and especially since COVID-19 started, the market has also offered prepared foods. Their in-house bakery whips up pies, muffins, fresh cider donuts and more. Their deli offers cold cuts, sandwiches, salads and soup. Don’t feel like cooking? They also have homemade grab-and-go meals to heat up and feed a family.
Their cooler offers local drinks, “and we also stock local beer, wine, and cider,” Shelly says. There’s also the ‘convenience shelf’ with baking needs, canned goods and “anything else you forgot at the grocery store.” Need a quick gift? They carry toys and cards. And don’t forget the maple goodies they’re famous for, which are “a big reason the store is here,” she says.
In Shelly’s eyes, what’s helped the North Hadley Market thrive is their willingness to change to meet community needs. After COVID-19 shutdowns in March, they ran curbside pickup only. Still, because they source so locally, they offered items larger grocers didn’t have. After figuring out how to reopen safely, “we’ve had new customers become regulars because they feel more comfortable in a small store with few staff,” she says. “We do everything we can to keep the store clean and safe.”
COVID-19 adaptation aside, they’ve always tried to keep things fresh to engage new customers and excite regulars, Shelly explains. “We keep products people like while looking for something different. Whether it’s a new beer or a new to-go meal, we always want people thinking ‘Geez, I wonder what’s new this week?’”
Each holiday brings new surprises. “We did Thanksgiving and Christmas takeout meals this year, which went great,” Shelly says. Soon they’ll offer an ‘everything but the meal’ pre-order Valentine’s Day special, including a tote bag with two bottles of wine and plenty of homemade and chocolate-coated maple candy.
The North Hadley Market is open 8-5 every day, and their Facebook page is updated regularly with new products and specials. Rather not come into the store? Email or call ahead and they’ll set aside a curbside pickup. Not sure they have what you need? Just ask.
“I think people are starting to appreciate the availability of local products more, honestly,” Shelly says. “What I hope people remember is that we’re here for you now, and in the future. Don’t forget all these farm stands up and down the Valley.”
You can find other year-round local markets and seasonal farm stands using CISA’s searchable online guide at buylocalfood.org/find-it-locally/. If you like what you find, be sure to tell your friends and neighbors. Places like these rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals.
Says Shelly, ” We’re here for the community. We’ve been here, we are here, we don’t plan on going anywhere, and even after COVID we’ll still have the same great products.”
Jacob Nelson is communications coordinator for CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture).