Lyndeborough Village Store is the heart of downtown

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small-town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small-town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The RK Village Store in the center of Lyndeborough has everything a local would want from its small town store, but it's the people who make it more than just a place to get milk, a sandwich and a six-pack of beer. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The village store in Lyndeborough dates back to the 1800s and for many years was home to the town's post office. Courtesy of Lyndeborough Historical Society—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/18/2019 9:01:29 PM

Kelly Wheeler knows just about everybody who walks through the door of the RK Village Store in Lyndeborough – most of them by name and even more by face.

Because for Wheeler, a longtime Village Store employee, it’s about the people as much as it is about the bread, beer and sliced roast beef that fill the coolers and shelves.

There are people in town like John Deline who go to the store every day – sometimes making three or four trips. Deline has lived in town for 25 years and starts most days with a drive to the town center for his morning cup of coffee. Like many people in town, this is his store. It’s where he goes to get cat food and a breakfast sandwich, and where he brings fresh milk to the owner Manoj Patel and his family just about every day. That’s just the kind of personal interactions you will find at the small town store.

“This is a funny little store,” Deline said. “He’s got everything you want from a big store.”

Since folks come in to chat as much as they do buy something, Wheeler has to keep up on the happenings in town government (and the gossip), the latest weather report and if so and so found their lost dog. She also acts as a resource for those new to Lyndeborough in need of directions or information on the house for sale on Center Road.

“Someone will come in and say ‘I saw the fire truck go by last night, what happened?’” Wheeler said. “It helps that I’m kind of nosy – in a good way.”

Wheeler said the store is like the “Cheers” of Lyndeborough, a place where everyone knows your name. And that’s the way she likes it.

Her cousin Greg Porter has worked for the town for close to 40 years and comes in for lunch every day.

“You can go to the Wilton Recycling Center and they talk about how nice Kelly is,” Porter said, as he grabbed some fried food from under the heating lamp.

Wheeler usually works in the afternoons and evenings, but sees a lot of the same people no matter when she’s on duty.

“That’s a big deal around here, small-town mentality,” Wheeler said. “Sometimes there’s a line of people to buy things and another line of people to talk to me.”

But even though it’s the only store for seven miles and is open seven days a week until at least 9 p.m. six of those (8 p.m. on Sunday), every place needs a reason for people to keep coming back. So Patel has been working since he purchased the business about two years ago from Rick and Brenda McQuade to figure out what people want, and do his best to make sure he brings it in.

“We never let anyone leave hungry or upset. Everyone has to leave with a smile,” Wheeler said.

Patel has expanded the beer selection, keeps a healthy selection of local products on hand, including greeting cards by longtime employee Deb Fuller, and put a real emphasis on the food. The store offers breakfast sandwiches in the morning, fried foods and made-to-order sandwiches for the lunch rush, as well as sliced deli meats and cheeses, baked goods and a small selection of fresh vegetables.

“It’s always fun. Every day is different,” Patel said. “People come in for everything, but it’s not just a business, it’s the community.”

As you’d expect from a small-town store, people come in for bread, milk and eggs quite regularly, along with whatever they may have forgotten while out on their big grocery shopping trip. There’s also your typical chips and snacks, soda and ice cream, along with a funny catch-all area with things like bug spray, charcoal and air fresheners.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time we have what they’re looking for,” Wheeler said.

Lyndeborough Historical Society member Jessie Salisbury said the store dates back to the mid-1800s. There is some question as to whether it was built and then moved to its present location, or built right there in Lyndeborough Center. The Tarbell family, the same one the town’s library is named after, are the ones most prominently associated with the early years, owning and operating the store for decades. It started with Joel Tarbell in 1863 and was run by his sons Charles and Walter at different times, along with his uncle Joseph.

According to town histories, Walter Tarbell owned and ran the store from 1890 until 1935 when it was sold to Fannie and Frank Hopkins.

For many years it was known as Tarbells. At some point, it became the South Lyndeboro Store and later the Lyndeborough Village Store. When Patel bought the store he gave the name a slight tweak, adding RK. The initials represent the first letter of the names of Patel’s daughter and niece.

Many people owned the store for a few years or a decade until Don and Cathy Guertin ran it for more than 30 years from 1981 until 2015, when the McQuades took over. Patel had actually looked at the store when it was on the market when the McQuades purchased it. He has owned the business for about two years.

In the 1870s, the store was moved back – like the rest of the village buildings – to accommodate the construction of the railroad, Salisbury said.

In the early times, it was a place to get hay and grain. The post office was housed in the location where the deli stands now. In the 1940s, there were gas pumps, but they didn’t stick around for long. The Don and Cathy Guertin are the ones who put in the deli, added the ATM and rented movies.

“Don changed with the times,” Salisbury said. “But what I first remember, it was just the old village convenience store. It’s where you went for the news and your gallon of milk.”

Now it’s Patel’s turn to make it into what the people of Lyndeborough want. Whatever someone asks for, Patel will do his best to bring in. Of course, after the New England Patriots big win in Super Bowl LIII, Patel made sure to stock some championship apparel.

“One guy stopped in the morning after for a T-shirt,” Patel said.

Because the goal is to keep the people who walk through the door happy – and coming back.

“It’s a good place with friendly, nice people,” Wheeler said. “You get to know everybody and everything.”




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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