All made right here
Warner shop sells only local food, crafts
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
Localvores have a new one-stop shop to check out in Warner. The Kearsarge Market is stocked with only New Hampshire-made products — many made by local cooks, farmers and artisans — all displayed in a beautifully refurbished 1795 colonial home.
“This area has the most artists in the state, but they are not being featured as much as they are in other places,” owner Mike McChesney said. “There is also more agriculture in this area than a lot of the state, and we want to feature it, too. People have really responded. We opened in November and had a very successful winter.”
Customers walk in through the front door and are greeted with music from a local group’s current CD. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly as you move through the first-floor rooms filled with foodstuffs and crafts. On one recent Saturday, Dianne Swett was busy with the creation of a crocheted stuffed hedgehog (she also sells knitted and sewn items, as well as all-natural dog biscuits). Nearby, Teresa Mueler from Dancing Apple Farm sells fresh-baked pies, cakes, breads and pizzas. Plus she puts together sandwiches made with her husband Peter’s double-smoked sausages, which he grills out back. He also sells other smoked meats, such as turkey and fish. (The couple is a competitive ballroom dance team in their spare time.)
In the next room, Jim Zane sells jars of his Little Old Lady chili and pasta sauce, next to the display of beautiful bead work done by his wife, Maria. On the other side of the room, Brandon Sussman sells naturally grown meat and poultry, along with his wife Mary’s quilt work. The market also sells local eggs, produce, ice cream, cheese, candy, take-home meals, artwork and cups of coffee.
“This is a comfortable place with a lot of character, which draws in a lot of characters. The average stay for a customer is 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Some people stay an hour,” McChesney said with a laugh.
McChesney’s “real” job is as a design engineer, which is one of the reasons the market is only open on Saturdays. (The plan is to open the market for the entire weekend in the near future.) He did most of the work on the building, such as the finish carpentry, and he made the old-fashioned signs hung throughout the retail area. “I’m an artist turned engineer,” he said.
The idea for this venture came from McChesney’s childhood family trips.
“I grew up in upstate New York and we did road trips throughout the Adirondacks. That area has a lot of authentic spots and authentic people who love what they do. We are losing so much of our culture. It’s Wal-Mart everything,” McChesney said.
As the weather gets warmer, McChesney plans to move more items outside and set up a fresh produce stand. He also has big future plans for the three-acre Main Street site: “I want to develop a colonial village. I’m going to bring in an old schoolhouse from Pembroke and an 1800 barn from Vermont. I’m looking for a restaurant that would like to go into one of the buildings. Not only will I have the two additional buildings, but there are the beautiful woods and trails around the back for people to use for snowmobiles in the winter and summer nature walks.”