We were pleased to speak with Mary Davenport of Wing’s Market & Deli in Fairlee, Vermont. Wing’s also has a second location in East Thetford, Vermont. Wing’s Market is a full service grocery store offering grocery products, meat, produce, deli products, bakery items and Irving gasoline (at the Fairlee location. ) Mary is involved in every facet of the business so you could see her stocking shelves, at the cash register or anywhere in the store. On the day I visited, Mary was working behind the bustling deli counter and took some time off from her busy schedule to speak with me.
Q. How did the business start and what is the origin of the name “Wing’s?”
A. Wing is my father’s last name. He (Stanley Wing) started the business in 1954 at the East Thetford location. We opened up the Fairlee location in 1964 at the other end of Fairlee beside Evans in the great big lot that used to be an apartment building. We were at that location for 32 years. My father retired in 1989 and I took it over in 1989.
Q. Did you work at the business when you were a child and does your family work here today?
A. I have always been involved in the business. One of my first jobs at the market was bagging oranges and apples when I was 10 or 11. I actually went to nursing school right out of high school and worked in geriatric nursing for eight and a half years but decided I was interested in helping my dad with the family business. My husband Don is involved in the business as is my daughter Michelle. We have about 26ish employees between our two locations.
Q. What are some of the challenges your business faces?
A. My biggest challenge is the State of Vermont and their taxing structure combined with being right on the border of tax-free New Hampshire. I can look out the door and there’s New Hampshire. The bottle bill is also an issue. People don’t want to deal with returning bottles. It is a nuisance to have to bring the bottles back for a five cent deposit. They are more apt to go to buy soda and other beverages in New Hampshire so they don’t have to deal with the bottle return, bottle deposit and soda tax. There are a lot of other regulations which also make this a difficult business. Also, there have been many businesses who have left town which gives you less traffic, less exposure.
Q. What do you like best about the business?
A. The people. We have had many loyal and supportive customers over the years. I have really enjoyed being of service and supporting the community. I also like to keep busy! Taking over the business was a very good choice for me. I have enjoyed it a lot.
Q. Is there anything that Wing’s provides that people may not be aware of?
A. We do make pizzas to go between 2 and 6 on Fridays. They are made to order and aren’t cooked so you can take them home to bake them. We hold produce tent sales once or twice a year and truckload meat sales in the Fall and we have a lobster truck sale twice a year at our Fairlee location. The next one is the Saturday before Father’s Day. We also make our own salads, soups and grinders.