Carol Pratt has a clear picture of what’s right.
When her sons were students at Greenwood School, she couldn’t help but notice that the windows in the old building didn’t fully close and snow would blow in the classrooms. She brought the situation to the attention of school administrators who said there wasn’t the money to fix them and, as a member of the PTA, she should consider a fundraising campaign.
That didn’t sit well with Carol.
She told administrators that her tax dollars were paying for schools and the windows should be fixed. That’s what happened.
In fact, it was the schools that brought Carol and her husband, Dennis, to Greenwood. They wanted to be in the Toll Gate High School district.
But it was serendipity, and her Pennsylvania Dutch roots, that earned her the unofficial title of the “mother of Apponaug.”
Mother is fitting, for Carol has adopted the village. She is a member of the village improvement association, a member of the advisory committee for the circulator project and on the village historic district commission. Those are a few of the roles she has. Like a mother, Carol is always looking out for the village and is intimately involved with its well-being.
It is her interest in country stores, which she attributes to growing up in Pennsylvania, that brought her to the village.
Soon after moving to Greenwood, she discovered The Country Peg, a tiny store owned and operated by Peggy Beauchine. Carol was in the store frequently, and even baby-sat the operation from time to time, so it’s no wonder that when Peggy thought of selling, she talked to Carol. Carol loved the idea and operated the store, which she renamed Carol’s Country Corner, for five years before deciding to move. The space was 285 square feet and so small that two customers would be a crowd.
She reached an agreement to buy a larger place, even had business cards printed up for the new location, when the deal came apart. Her printer, Ed Shunney, suggested she look into renting the place next door – just two doors down from City Hall. There wasn’t a sign in the window, so Carol hadn’t considered the place that in the 1920s was an A&P grocery store.
“It was filled with equipment and stuff, generators,” Carol recalls. She reached an agreement with the landlord, Peter Toy, and Carol’s Country Corner Store became an Apponaug business. That was 14 years ago.
The family helped her pack everything up and the move was completed in two days. Scott Avedisian cut the ribbon at the official opening – his first ribbon cutting as mayor.
Over the years, the store has grown. When Arc Electronics, which was next door, moved out, she expanded into that space.
There have been some unforgettable moments.
Early one Saturday morning, on the eve of the Christmas season, Carol got a call from police. A car had driven through the store’s display window and then took off, the rims of two blown out tires gouging the asphalt. The woman responsible was quickly found, but Carol and her family raced to repair the store and stay open.
And then Carol got involved in Apponaug. She even took a run at politics. On her first bid for City Council, she came up nine votes short of beating the incumbent. On her second and final run, she lost by about 100 votes.
“I’m not a politician, but I’m someone interested in my neighborhood,” she said.
Running for office is not something she plans on doing again.
She has other plans. She has decided it’s time for her fourth career – being a grandmother and great-grandmother. And she and her husband would like to do some traveling, too.
This Friday, the “50 percent off” “Going-out-of-business” signs will go up and she will sell everything. She didn’t hesitate when asked what she’ll miss most – the customers.
Most are women and Carol has come to know them well.“I should hang out a psychologist sign … women talk to women,” she said. Carol sent an email to her list of 1,100, informing them of her plans. The word has spread quickly. Some shelves are already bare, although the sale won’t start until after Thanksgiving.
“I’ll go back to what I really want to do,” she says, “baking cookies for the kids.”
That won’t be all.
She has no plans on abandoning Apponaug, either.
“I have a big mouth,” she said. She plans to use it when it comes to working for the village.