The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Bottom Line: Woodstock butcher shop off the block as longtime owners step away

  • George Racicot prepares Acadian pork pies at the Village Butcher Shop in Woodstock, Vt., on Dec. 14, 2007. "I still love it, and eat it all the time, not just at Christmas," he said. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 2/27/2021 10:17:14 PM
Modified: 2/27/2021 10:17:11 PM

The Village Butcher in Woodstock is in new hands.
   George and Linda Racicot, owners of the Elm Street butcher shop and deli for decades, have sold their business to Alex and Cristy Beram, Upper Valley transplants from Massachusetts who promise to continue the traditions of the old-style store along with introducing some twists of their own.

The Village Butcher will remain closed for the next six to eight weeks while the Berams undertake a renovation and new layout of the approximately 1,500-square-foot space.

“They are keeping the meat counter, the deli counter, the bakery. They bought all our recipes,” Linda Racicot said last week, her last at the store after more than 34 years. Although she said three or four potential buyers came close to buying the business, she described the couple as “the best fit.”

George Racicot, now 79, started out cutting meat in 1957 as an apprentice to his father, Herve Racicot, at Houghton’s Red & White on Central Street, where The Yankee Bookshop is now located.

Eventually he opened his own butcher shop on the east side of the village in 1969 before moving to The Village Butcher’s current Elm Street location in 1973. Since then, along with its next-door neighbor F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store, The Village Butcher has become something of a Woodstock institution.

The Racicots put The Village Butcher up for sale last year in anticipation of retirement.

“We’re just thankful for all the support we’ve had from the community in 47 years — 48 years in May,” said Linda Racicot, who has run the deli counter since she married George in 1986. The couple, who live in South Pomfret, said the priority now is to spend a lot of time with their first grandchild, 8-month-old Georgie Pauline Goodale.

Linda Racicot said her two sisters, Mary Lavanway and Jean LaRocque, who have worked “off and on” at Village Butcher for 35 years, are also retiring.

But where one family exits, another enters.

Alex Beram said he and Cristy will be joined at the store by her mother, Bebe Stoddard, a trained baker who relocated to the Upper Valley a few months ago and will be the baker.

(Beram assured that “we’ll continue to do” baker Mary Lavanway’s prized cheddar cheese rolls and whoopie pies.)

The Berams have had a condo in Quechee for several years but settled there full time last May with their two boys, ages 9 and 6.

A trained professional musician — he plays the trombone — with an MBA from Boston University, Alex Beram’s career has spanned music performance, music management, hotels and, most recently, international corporate services. Cristy Beram has been an executive with a pharmaceutical company.

Now, they’re stepping off the corporate treadmill and into a small business his family can run together.

“I had always thought about doing something like this in eight to 10 years,” Alex Beram said.

The Berams were regular shoppers at The Village Butcher but, when the Racicots began looking for new owners last year, the prospect aligned with the Berams’ move to the Upper Valley, and the couple advanced their timeline.

“Being involved in a local community, at the intersection of food and people’s daily lives, has always been a passion of mine,” Alex said.

The Berams have been quietly learning about the business from the Raciots for the past several months — importantly 20-year ace butcher Josh Coyle, who has worked at The Village Butcher since he was 18, is staying on under the new management — and do not plan to immediately introduce radical changes.

But among the priorities, Alex Beram said, will be expanding the to-go prepared meals and introducing an online order platform (which currently is not available) and making it a priority to source meats and fowl from Vermont and New Hampshire farms. They are also investigating the possibility of introducing delivery service “within a certain radius of the store,” he said.

“Our aim is to bring as much of the food supply chain to Vermont as we can. We’ve already started reaching out to local farmers and looking closer to what it is we can buy here,” Alex Beram said.

Alex Beram declined to discuss terms of the purchase; Country Business Inc., the broker that represented the Racicots in the sale, had The Village Butcher listed at $245,000. Because the butcher shop is a tenant in the building, real estate was not part of the sale.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy