Village Grocery and Refillery in Kingston offers a colorful, tranquil food shopping experience | Local news

Brahm Buck

KINGSTON, N.Y. — A colorful mural adorns the façade of Village Grocery and Refillery, a newly-opened Midtown neighborhood grocery store. Anthea White and Mark Palmer , owners of Village Grocery and Refillery in Kingston, NY talk about what their store offers to the community. One of its owners, Anthea White, […]

KINGSTON, N.Y. — A colorful mural adorns the façade of Village Grocery and Refillery, a newly-opened Midtown neighborhood grocery store.

Anthea White and Mark Palmer , owners of Village Grocery and Refillery in Kingston, NY talk about what their store offers to the community.

One of its owners, Anthea White, who lives with her husband, Mark Palmer, and 5-year-old son nearby on West Chester Street, says the abstract painting is both personal and inspiring.

“We really wanted this space to be fun, to give people a sense of ease and lift,” White said. “Since everyone has been through such an incredibly tough and tense year, I just really wanted to out a smile on peoples’ faces.

“The mural was partly inspired by one of my fathers’ paintings and part by a super amazing French street artist and other visual inspirations,” she added.

The mural, painted by Jennifer Bowskill, is a signature welcoming shoppers to Village Grocery and Refillery, located at 2 Jansen Ave., and owned by White and Palmer.

The couple, who are musicians from Sydney, Australia, in a soul/jazz band called “The Hipstones,” came to New York City in 2009 and are already acquainted with Kingston’s new business buzz. They also operate the Village Coffee and Goods Shop at 17 Railroad Ave.

In 2017, they bought their West Chester Street home, which can almost be seen from the outdoors of their 1,500 square-foot mostly-organic produce grocery where the Sunshine Market was once housed.

Palmer, who spent time working in New York City restaurants, and his wife are crazy about coffee and wound up opening the Village Coffee and Goods shop three years ago. They say both their shops are designed with a community- conscious spirit in mind.

Village, they said, is the title of an original song.

“’Village,’ which was actually one of the first songs we wrote when we moved to NYC and were living in the West Village,” White said. “We wanted to keep using Village because we believe we have built a unique experience that we want our customers to know they will receive at Village Grocery as well.”

In part, the song lyrics read:

“We’ve heard the children play

And watched the seasons change

Like trees familiar faces

Planted memories in our mind

Village you never thumbled

By you we have been humbled

We’d like to stay forever

How sad it is that we must part.”

Palmer points out, though, that the “Refillery” moniker is not a real word. It is meant to send a message, however.

Many items such as pasta, flour, nuts, beans, lentils, granola and other goods  are located in bulk dispensers and can be accessed by customers using their own reusable containers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the couple sold produce from their Railroad Avenue spot but quickly ran out of space. In November, they began a search for a grocery store spot and found it on a parcel owned by the Kingston Standard Brewery Co., which rents the building where the grocery store and deli now operate.

“We originally looked at the space back in 2019, pre-pandemic, and had grand plans to create a larger Village Coffee but when the pandemic hit we quashed any concept of starting something new and had to focus on how to survive our current business,” White said. “Fast forward a year and the concept of Village Grocery was really the expansion of how Village Coffee grew/morphed/pivoted during the pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit, we made the choice to stay open and were able to very quickly transform our little cafe into a general store,” she added. “We kept asking our customers what they needed, what can we offer them when everyone was too nervous to go to the big supermarkets.”

By late 2020, the couple decided to make a go at it on Jansen Avenue.

“We had heard that the space still had not been leased and Mark and I decided to take it on but this time with a more grocery focus,” White said. “It wasn’t going to be the same as the old Sunshine Market. We wanted to keep true to our concept of local, organic and/or natural, sustainable and ethical.

White says she is not fond of supermarkets.

“Personally, I don’t like going to the supermarket and having to choose between five different egg types or fivedifferent milk brands,” she said in an email. “We wanted grocery shopping to be fun and unstressful so when people come to Village Grocery, they know that we have carefully chosen every product for our customers and they know they can trust our choices to meet those values.”

Village Grocery and Refillery opened on April 10, with 18 employees now working there. An additional 11 work at the Village Coffee and Goods.

“The investment was definitely way more than we anticipated but we are suckers for a challenge and our belief in what we are doing,” said White, who added that a gut renovation included a new kitchen.

That concept, the couple, says is rewarding.

“Village Grocery is kind of a unique concept, in that it isn’t just a grocery store,” White said. “We also offer in-house baked goods, beautiful deli offerings, made-to-order sandwiches and a full kitchen menu as well, and we also offer specialty coffee, just like at Village Coffee.

“Everything in the store has been hand-picked and sourced by Mark and myself,” she added. “As a vegetarian, it is really important that if we sell or use meat, it is ethically sourced, pasture raised and the animals are loved and happy. “

The produce is mainly organic and local with direct farm-to-table relationships.

“When we are sourcing products, we make choices to take care of our community, our environment, and our bodies,” White said. “How does this product impact the environment, is this product needed by our customers, are we giving and contributing to our immediate community, are these foods good for your body.

“How far has this product travelled to get to our store, what packaging is used,” White added. “Can we compost that, can our customers compost or recycle that packaging. These are all the factors that go in to us choosing the products we have.”

Most importantly, she said, is the space.

“I think also, our position is that we want to create a space that inspires our community and inspires creativity through great food, vibe and spirit, and just willingness to try something new.”

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