Smitty reopens Brighton Mini Mart

Jon Waldrop stands outside the Brighton Mini Mart, which he reopened with co-owner Lauren Parmington last month, selling food, drink and other essentials to locals, travelers and Paul Smith’s College students. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

BRIGHTON — The Brighton Mini Mart is open once again, and one of the new co-owners, Jon Waldrop, said he’s excited to be running the store he shopped at when he was a student at Paul Smith’s College.

“It’s interesting, driving by this place so many times going to Paul Smith’s College, and knowing now that I own it, it’s kind of strange,” Waldrop said on Wednesday.

Waldrop attended Paul Smith’s College from 2006 to 2008 for a general degree, and after a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard in his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he returned and graduated in 2017 with a business degree. He said he knows how essential the shop is for the area because he shopped there himself.

“Mainly I was using the deli,” he said with a laugh. “But, you know, gotta have the occasional beer here and there.”

The store has gone through a string of different owners, each lasting a year or two, recently in 2018, and in 2019.

Steven Sehm, a friend of Brighton Mini Mart co-owners Jon Waldrop and Lauren Parmington, came up from Brooklyn last month to help fix up the shop, which reopened two weeks ago. He said he believes the mini mart will be a true “convenience store” because it will be so convenient for the people of Brighton, Gabriels, Paul Smiths and Bloomingdale to stop there. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

It was hard to see the business go through so many owners and have long periods of closure, Waldrop said. He wants to bring some “stability” to the store.

“The demand is here,” he said, as two cars with customers pulled in on Wednesday morning. “The place is definitely viable, you just need to be willing to put the hours in.”

Since the store reopened two weeks ago, Waldrop said customers have been telling him and co-owner Lauren Parmington that they’re glad the store is back open. It’s the only place to buy essentials in Brighton and it’s the last gas station for many miles on the trip from Bloomingdale to Malone or Potsdam.

Waldrop also runs High Peaks Wine and Spirits in Saranac Lake, a business he’s owned for four years after several years of managing the shop. He’s used to working long hours at the liquor store, he said.

“I don’t mind doing the business end of it, but I also don’t mind standing there myself if I have to,” he said.

He had looked at purchasing the business before the previous owners opened it as the Adirondack Market and Deli in 2019, but said he was still finding his footing at High Peaks Wine and Spirits. He said if he’s going to do something right, he wants to have the time to become “obsessed” with it. He’s got the time now, he said.

He said all the components of his decision made sense — the economics, the social aspect and the community.

His employees are committed, too, Waldrop said. He selected them himself, finding people he knew were reliable.

He said he didn’t have a struggle finding employees, as many employers have faced this year.

“I think I’m pretty well connected,” he said. “And I’m not afraid to pay my people.”

Waldrop said he’s looking to sell, “Essentially anything and everything we can.”

There’s snacks, drinks, groceries, coffee, deli meats, propane, wood and ice for sale. On Friday, he hopes an employee from Franklin County Weights and Measures can test the gasoline pumps so he can start selling fuel. He said he’s taking feedback on what he should be adding to his inventory.

The store’s hours are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. The deli’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Waldrop said the deli is carrying many of the same products from the same suppliers as when it was the the Adirondack Market and Deli.

Now that the shop is open, Waldrop said he’s been getting to know all the college students, town and county employees, contractors and locals who frequent his shop.


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