New Life for an Old BuildingJun 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Gayle Morrow
The question of what special flavor of milkshake to feature for June may not be the most pressing one for Roseville Market owners Nick and Jamie Bradford, but it is one requiring a decision, and soon.
“We’re not sure what June will be,” Jamie muses. “We really need to think about that.”
March, by the way, was a green, minty nod to St. Patrick’s Day, April was creamy maple, and May was peanut butter marshmallow.
“Our milkshakes are really a specialty—at least we think they are,” Nick says.
Roseville Market milkshakes, made with Hershey’s ice cream and created right before your eyes from any of the available flavors, are just one of the many offerings that are turning this store on Route 549 in the middle of Roseville into a destination. Customers come from across the border—places like Horseheads, Elmira Heights—and from all over Tioga County.
“We’re trying to also be a local market, a grocery store for local people,” says Nick, who grew up on a dairy farm just a few miles away. So there are the regulars who come in for the “daily things,” and, as has been the case at country stores for as long as there have been country stores, to socialize. “It’s amazing when you have something like this—that people use it for a meeting place,” he adds.
Part of that meeting place ambiance—okay, most of it—is a spill-over from the smiling family at the helm. Despite the long hours—Nick says they call the store their “seventy-hour-a-week side business”—they’re all here, looking like they’re having a pretty good time, working in and around other obligations and responsibilities: Nick, who has another full-time job; Jamie, who takes care of the voluminous bookwork; and, when they’re not in school or in after-school activities, their three daughters, Martina, Marissa, and Allison. Jamie’s mom helps out in the deli, and one of Nick’s cousins is also an employee.
“Everybody told us we were crazy,” Nick says, then backtracks a little. “Well, maybe not quite everybody.” Perhaps not the folks who, over the past dozen or so years, kept asking the family, “Are you ever going to do anything with this?”
The couple explains that they bought the building “from the bank” with no clear idea how they might repurpose it. It had for years and years been one of Roseville’s cornerstones—one of those multi-purpose stores every little community used to have—but for the past two decades had, sadly, been nothing but empty. When the Bradfords bought it, Jamie says, they remodeled the upstairs apartment to provide some income via rent, and considered using the downstairs space as a warehouse for the food distribution business Nick and his brother own (they distribute Pennsylvania-based Utz and other products to regional stores), and for which Jamie does the bookkeeping. They did nothing with the space for a while, but, the creative wheels had begun turning.
“Being in the distribution business, we kind of knew what might sell,” she says. As Nick notes, that distribution business was doing well, which gave them some time and resources to decide how and what to make of the building. They thought a deli would be a good anchor for a small store, and, in the year since they’ve been open (Memorial Day weekend was the anniversary), that has proven to be the case.
“We’re kind of getting a reputation for having good subs,” Jamie says.
Remodeling on what is now the store space began in earnest about two years ago, and, again, it was a family venture, or maybe an adventure. Perhaps a misadventure.
“Do you still have nightmares about putting in the dropped ceiling with me?” Nick asks Martina, the couple’s oldest daughter. Martina kind of rolls her eyes at her dad.
“Yes,” is all she says.
At any rate, “everything you see, we did,” Nick continues, and while he acknowledges “there is no fancy Victorian trim” in here, there is some family history. In 2016, he helped tear down a barn in the Sabinsville area that had belonged to Jamie’s grandfather. He salvaged as much of the wood as he could, and some of it found its way into the Roseville Market’s refurbished interior.
“It was sad to tear it down, but at least it’s here,” Jamie says. She’s right. You could look at the old barn boards and cross beams in their new location and think about endings and beginnings, about new life and new uses for old things and old ideas, about how what goes around comes around. Nick says he’s seeing that more and more lately in the retail world.
“Covid was awful, but it really highlighted the need and benefit for local connections,” he says. “There is such a resurgence in small, independent markets. It’s almost a new, growing category.”
That seems to be the case on this busy Thursday afternoon at the Roseville Market as customers come and go. One of the Bradford daughters is making peanut butter marshmallow milkshakes for a customer, who happens to be a former employee.
“I still shop here!” Allison Hill says with a big grin. She’s the only former employee, actually, because all of the others—about eight, not counting the Bradfords—are still employed. One of those is on the phone taking a sub order, and another is slicing meat.
“We were the first job for five or six local kids, and they’re still here,” Nick says. “We’re really proud of our staff.” They’re proud of their own kids, too.
“Family comes first, but business is a close second, because you need the business to take care of the family,” he continues. “You take pride in building a business, and for the kids to be part of that. We’re proud to see them rise to the occasion.”
Maybe that’s what makes everything at the Roseville Market so pleasant.
Find the Roseville Market on Route 549, on Facebook, or call (570) 549-2090.