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Mountain Home Magazine

On the Shores of Towanda's Golden Mile

Jun 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Maggie Barnes

Traffic slows to a crawl, then a near stop. You’re thinking construction? Accident, maybe? But no, it’s just Saturday at Shores Sisters.

The farm market/café/greenhouse/store has become one of the pivotal businesses on the bustling “Golden Mile” in Towanda. But it didn’t start out that way. It began with a pair of sisters and a field of corn.

“It was either selling sweet corn or milking cows!” Renee Wilson laughs as she recalls the ultimatum her father gave her and her sister Raya when they were teenagers. The family had a dairy farm and that meant all hands on deck. There was no way they could know then, but the sisters were on a path that has brought them to an ambitious plan of expansion today.

The first Shores Sisters Market stand exactly where they once sold corn out of a truck, but featured a substantial building, a huge variety of wares and a cherished spot in the hearts of local and visitors. Renee co-owns the business with husband Mike and employs fifteen to twenty people who, “remind me so much of myself when I started out.”

Mike and Renee met in a setting straight out of a country song. He was a farmhand, loading corn when he caught the eye of the farmer’s daughter. He was headed to boot camp. She was going to college. Somewhere along the line, they decided the farm life was the one they wanted. Before they put up the wooden building in 2012, the market was housed in a skid shed. A real structure brought lighting, refrigeration, and what was then a lot of space. Renee’s dream for the market grew too, and she began to seek out specialty items and local supplies for meat, baked goods, and seasonal décor.

The produce is gorgeous, brilliant in color and variety. There are jars of jam and pickled things of various spiciness. A line of coolers display meats, bacon, and eggs from places just down the road. The sweet corn isn’t local yet, but will be very soon and many fans will be coming for a dozen ears.

“I’ve learned as we’ve gone along,” Renee says. “And our customers have been a part of every milestone in my life.” They rejoiced when she and Mike got married, and cooed over their children, raised behind the counter from their car seat days. She knows virtually everyone who comes in.

Shores Sisters has worked hard to build relationships with local growers and makes it a priority to use meats, greens, and grains grown nearby. From coffee roasted in Dushore, to Mother’s Day flowers in the greenhouse, to homegrown Christmas trees, Shores Sisters reflects the seasons. Now with a café featuring soups, breads, and produce, even a gray winter day can be brightened by the Wilson family. While a local favorite, it has become a destination for folks from Williamsport, Corning, and Tunkhannock as the perfect weekend jaunt.

“No, this wasn’t the plan when I was a kid,” Renee smiles as she greets customers. “But it is a good life.”

So good, in fact, that Shores Sisters outgrew its original footprint. Renee and Mike had to make a decision: stay as they are, with the limitations of space and parking, or take the business to the next level. Grounded by faith and prayerful consideration, they took the leap and bought the three adjacent properties in order to build a 24,000 square foot structure to house the market, the cafe, the greenhouse, and the home décor shop. “I asked God to stop me if this isn’t what we are supposed to do,” Renee laughs, “It’s been green lighted at every turn.”

On March 25, Renee and Mike closed the doors to the old red building that was their first mortgage together. “We met so many wonderful people in that red wooden structure—and we welcomed our three children there,” Ada, Allie, and—last fall—Kit.

There were challenges to this new business plan, namely the pandemic and endless supply issues. “We [were] a year and half into this, and still waiting for steel,” Renee shrugs. The complications made a timeline hard to predict, but the Wilsons reopened in spring 2023 as planned.

The former café was charming, but toasty, with tables set up amidst greenery under a glass ceiling. The new facility has full HVAC, allowing for true year-round use and more seating, making it easier to host bridal showers on-site. Events like that, and more community offerings like craft days for kids, are one of the reasons for the big build.

Though not open as of this writing, there is a take-out window for the cafe via an app. What else are they doing with the extra space? “More restrooms, more shelf space for dry goods, and coolers for meats,” says Renee. “It will be better for our employees too.” So much so, that Renee may not need to hire any additional staff once her current team has enough room to groove.

The parking is no longer a challenge. The former open field with disorganized parking is now a spiffy parking lot with approximately 150 new spots to make getting in and out easy.

A thriving business and a happy family, both of which have successfully expanded. In the kids, Renee and Mike see a legacy of living off the land continuing into the future.

Shores Sisters Market is located at 1003 Golden Mile Road, in Towanda. They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed on Sunday. For more information, call (570) 265-0333.

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