Francestown

Historic Village Store sold

Village Foods, now headquartered in Milford, expanding as well

  • Today is the first day in several years that locals can purchase fresh, made-to-order sandwiches at the Francestown Village Store deli, now owned by Rob and Christina Wohle.
  • The Francestown Village Store is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • The Francestown Village Store deli is fully stocked for the first time in years and will feature a panini press for hot sandwiches.
  • Christina and Rob Wohle of Francestown plan to expand the produce selection at the store and include their own vegetablesas well as bake fresh breads and goodies.
  • Francestown Village Store employee Diane Paquin of Francestown assists Lisa Bourbeau of Francestown Wednesday with a purchase for a friend's birthday.

FRANCESTOWN — The Francestown Village Store, a commercial and cultural center of the town for nearly 200 years, has new owners who are looking to expand.

The store’s former owners, meanwhile, are moving forward with their Francestown Village Foods business, too, but giving up the store.

New owners Rob and Christina Wohle have a lot planned for the Main Street store, including adding fresh produce from their small farm in Francestown, Christina’s fresh baked breads and goodies and a made-to-order deli with a panini press.

The Wohle’s purchased the store this month for $540,000 and the store was officially under their watch as of Tuesday. The family, which includes their two sons, moved to Francestown two years ago from rural Nevada, where they had a large alfalfa farm.

They sold their produce to farms raising cattle for the dairy market. But Rob Wohle said the two really wanted to downsize their farm and move back to New Hampshire where Rob has family in Amherst, Keene, Milford and other towns. When his grandmother, Bette, died seven years ago and his family traveled up for the funeral, he said Christina fell in love with the area in southern New Hampshire. They moved to Francestown in December 2011.

They came across Francestown while looking for properties that could fit a small farm. Since they were also in the market to purchase a business, the Village Store happened to be the first thing to pop up when researching Francestown online.

The Village Store will be 200 years old next year, and Rob said he thinks it’s great owning such an old store: “I think it’s awesome, it’s like owning a piece of history.” He is very excited to celebrate this bicentennial with the community in 2014.

Rob Wohle said in an interview Wednesday that it’s been years since the Village Store had a functioning deli, but will begin making paninis very soon.

“I’ve been perfecting our panini recipe for years now,” Christina said at the store Wednesday.

The store will continue to sell plenty of gourmet frozen foods made by Francestown Village Foods, now headquartered in Milford and run by former Village Store owners Jason and Jennifer Martel.

Jason Martel said in an interview Wednesday that he has seen an enormous growth with Village Foods, and felt the need to focus on the growing business instead of balancing both it and the store.

“We’re in seven states currently and, by the end of 2015, we will be in 1,000 stores,” Martel said, noting that they supply independent stores and grocery stores like Shaw’s. “Fortunately, the people who now own the store are going to do an exceptional job.”

“We’ll have wine tastings,” Rob added. “The locals have been very receptive. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, it’s been amazing.”

The Village Store is located on 74 Main St. and, starting today, the deli will be open. The store is open seven days a week.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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