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Uncommon Market Changing Hands

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Peter Foote, right, exchanges parting words with Black River Produce delivery man Rich Prouty July 22 at the Uncommon Market. Photo by Carla Occaso

Peter Foote and Sharon Allen are turning The Uncommon Market over to new owners.

The Uncommon Market, popular for its seafood, sandwiches, and coffee, is located at the intersection of Elm Street at 1 School Street — a stone’s throw from the State House. It is also at the bottom of the densely populated Hillside, Cliff Street, and Elm Street residential neighborhood. 

When The Bridge visited July 22, a steady stream of customers came in, and then walked out with arms full of items. A worker busily walked around inside with a cloth wiping off door handles, the cash register; cooler handles. The phone rang. This place was busy for 9:30 on a Wednesday morning.

In a July 21 email to customers, Allen wrote, “Peter and I have sold the Market! The purchasers, Kevin Coughlin and Matt McCarthy, are everything that we had hoped we would find in a buyer.” Coughlin and McCarthy were customers who Allen said have been ‘fans’ of the market. The official date of transfer is July 30, so the last open day under Foote and Allen will be Wednesday, July 29.

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Allen went on to write that the new owners will keep the name as well as the deli counter and fresh fish counter, so that should come as a relief to regular customers who have relied on the little store for those items. Allen also said they intend to expand the local goods, organic produce, and craft beer sections.

“We’ve had 13 years here and it’s been great, but we’re tired,” Foote told The Bridge. “We still love the place.” Foote said running the store has been a great way to make friends he perhaps never would have otherwise met. One such person happened to wheel his way in with stacks of produce in what may be one of his last deliveries to Foote and Allen.

Sharon Allen, left, and Peter Foote, standing on the riverfront balcony at The Uncommon Market, talk about their thoughts on leaving the market after 13 years. Photo by Carla Occaso

“I’m going to miss you guys,” said Rich Prouty of Black River Produce. “I’ve enjoyed delivering to you.”

Allen said, when reflecting on what she will miss the most, “The people. The customers. We took this from kind of a convenience store to a real part of the community.” She said it became a meeting place and a place to get good food.

The deli sandwich counter frequently has a robust line at the lunch hour. Which sandwich is their favorite? Both said the Tom Robbins, which features turkey, bacon, cheddar, Granny Smith apple, and garlic on a Kaiser roll.

As for what they will do next?

Both said they plan to take three months off, and then, “we’ll see what the universe comes up with,” said Allen.

Both have a broad range of experience in their professional backgrounds. Allen has worked for the state, and as a caterer. She said Foote has worked as a teacher, in restaurants and in the mental health field. 

The last day of their ownership is July 29. They are taking orders for the last fish shipment by noon on Thursday, July 23. Minimum order is one pound. Cod, salmon, oysters, shrimp and halibut are available. Special orders can include haddock, Icelandic Arctic Char, trout, swordfish, Alaskan cod, frozen at sea, Scottish salmon, tuna, 10/20 dried scallops, 16/20 wild Gulf shrimp, clams, and mussels. Also available is chicken, sausage and steaks (ribeye and filet mignon). For more information, call 223-7051.

Born in Montpelier. Managing editor of The Bridge from 2014-2017. Writer and editor for The Caledonian Record; correspondent and contributing writer for The Times Argus, Burlington Free Press, Green Mountain Trading Post, North Star Monthly, The Northland Journal, and other publications. English teacher and Interventionist in the Montpelier Roxbury School district.