After recently celebrating a landmark 40th anniversary, the Big M in Sherburne has proven itself a staple in the northern Chenango County village, giving locals a convenient place to turn to for dry goods, produce, deli and household items. And while the days of reminiscing with a small town grocer are long gone, store owner Jim Fowler and his employees might just be the next best thing for thousands of Sherburne area residents.
I was given the opportunity to observe behind the scenes of the small grocery franchise for this week’s Punching the Clock series. Of course, grocery stores aren’t exactly uncharted territory for me, so I had an idea of what to expect: clerks bagging groceries and stocking shelves, customers pushing squeaky shopping carts down every aisle, and pallets full of back stock in a storage area that’s hidden by double swinging doors and a sign that reads “employees only.”
But there’s more to the Sherburn Big M and its 40-plus employees that sets it apart from big box grocery chains, explained store manager Jeff Collins. While the store’s move to a larger location four years ago made it more competitive with larger grocery chains, he said the Big M holds true to its small town customs.