JJ Hapgood General Store Returns to Peru and Embraces Community

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JJ Hapgood

A Vermont Country Store Returns to Peru

The JJ Hapgood General Store and Eatery, which first opened 150 years ago, was the longest-running general store in Vermont until it closed five years ago. New owners and Peru residents Juliette and Tim Britton felt strongly that the store needed to be revived for the benefit of the community.

“We could not let the village be without a central business,” Juliette said. Rebuilding began in July and the store, which includes a 25-seat cafe and outdoor seating for the summer months, opened for business on Dec. 15. “Our goal was to restore its historical function and to give the community back its gathering space.”

Located in the heart of Peru village, the store sells everything from wine and cheese to charcuterie and focaccia to baked goods and oven wood-fired pizza. The store, open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, also serves Vermont beers on draft.  The food prepared by Juliette and her staff has a local focus with Vermont-made ingredients, and the menu changes daily.

The community has whole-heartedly supported the store’s reopening from the beginning. One community member donated Danby marble to be used on the new sidewalk in front of the store and on the store’s outdoor patio. Juliette and Tim hired local contractors and businesses to rebuild the store, and reused whatever materials they could from the old building.

Reimagining and Revitalizing JJ Hapgood Store

The interior of the store is warm and inviting, with old wooden beams, antiques, and Vermont collectables—including one of the earliest Burton Snowboards ever made—as well as a gallery featuring work by local artists, along with plenty of comfortable seating.

The town of Peru has a population of about 425 and is home to Bromley Mountain ski area and the annual Peru Fair that takes place every September. Juliette spent her childhood in Peru and moved back to the area with Tim nine years ago to eventually start a family. She had previously worked as a private chef in Boston and later oversaw some residential interior design projects, which prepared her well for operating the store and designing the space.

“Since I grew up in Peru, I knew the feeling of the town and what would work here in the store,” Juliette said.
Juliette and I went to high school together in the 1980s. Back then, the movie “Baby Boom” with Diane Keaton was filmed in and around Peru. One of the movie’s funniest scenes was filmed at the old store, where one tourist gushes, “The whole state is cute.”

None of us imagined all those years ago that Juliette would help revive the store and transform it into such a magnificent place. Locals and visitors alike will find so much to love.

Thanks to Juliette and Tim, the lovely town of Peru feels as vibrant as ever.

 If You Go: J.J. Hapgood Store
Bromley Mountain
Peru Fair

Bennington County, country stores, Food & Drink, My Favorite Places, shopping
  • Alison K
    Posted at 20:59h, 02 January Reply

    What a charming little store! Thanks for sharing!

    • Erica
      Posted at 21:18h, 02 January Reply

      Thanks, Alison! It’s a wonderful spot — the owners have done a nice job creating an atmosphere that’s timeless and sophisticated. You should definitely stop by if you’re ever in southern Vermont!

  • Susan Joachim
    Posted at 12:48h, 05 January Reply

    I was in Peru 2 summers ago and the store was closed, will make a special trip to be able to come in the summer of 2014. Can’t wait!!!

    • Erica
      Posted at 18:37h, 05 January Reply

      Hi Susan,
      It will be worth the trip, I promise! Juliette and Tim have done a fantastic job, and the store’s reopening is such a great thing for the community. Take care.

  • Steve Borichevsky
    Posted at 15:50h, 05 January Reply

    Running a general store in Vt is quite a commitment. I wish them great luck and fortune.

    • Erica
      Posted at 18:39h, 05 January Reply

      Hi Steve – It definitely seems like a big job and you have to be really passionate to make it work. Hope you are doing well and great to hear from you! -Erica

  • Scott
    Posted at 15:09h, 07 January Reply

    Looks great! Will certainly visit next time I’m in the area.

    • Erica
      Posted at 20:00h, 07 January Reply

      Hi Scott – It’s definitely worth the trip. Happy New Year!

  • paul
    Posted at 00:57h, 15 February Reply

    Hello – Thanks for this blog. Just discovered it and am enjoying it a ton!
    Not only is the content great, but it is so visually pleasing!
    Paul in Texas

    • Erica
      Posted at 17:24h, 15 February Reply

      Thanks so much, Paul! I am so glad you are enjoying it. Always thrilled to hear from readers!

  • Frances
    Posted at 18:11h, 21 February Reply

    I was so sad to see the store had closed – we lived in Peru when we first moved to Vermont and my girls loved walking to the store for treats. So glad you’ve got it up and running again. Will definitely stop by soon.

    • Erica
      Posted at 13:13h, 22 February Reply

      Hi Frances — I remember the store growing up in nearby Manchester. I hated seeing it closed in recent years. I’m thrilled that Juliette and Tim have reopened the store – it’s so wonderful for the community. -Erica

  • Scott
    Posted at 10:12h, 11 May Reply

    Finally made it to Peru and JJ Hapgood’s this past weekend. Lovely little place and likely our new breakfast spot when visiting the area! Thanks for posting about it.

    • Erica
      Posted at 07:54h, 13 May Reply

      Hi Scott — Isn’t Peru lovely? Such a sweet little town. Glad you finally made it there to visit. JJ Hapgood’s is a gem! -Erica

  • Scott
    Posted at 23:41h, 14 May Reply

    Yes, I’m hoping to explore the area more in future trips. Its funny as we’ve driven past Peru for years going from Manchester to Weston but never actually bothered to stop and look around. My daughter spent well over an hour just checking out the old foundations on the green. You can’t plan this stuff….
    Now I also know where the pond is, but that’s for warmer time of year!
    Thanks for so many great tips!

    • Erica
      Posted at 20:55h, 15 May Reply

      Thanks for all of your support, Scott!

  • lee
    Posted at 12:18h, 12 December Reply

    So happy to hear you have reopened that Peru landmark. I used to sell soda and wine to the old owners in the early 1980s. Best of luck

  • Pingback:Enjoying a JJ Hapgood Dinner in the Comforts of a Country Store
    Posted at 20:15h, 13 April Reply

    […] is one of the longest-running general stores in Vermont. Located in the heart of Peru village, the store reopened in 2013 after it sat empty for five years. Since then, proprietors Juliette and Tim Britton have made J.J. […]

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