Stewart’s has always been a fine steward of our village and should be allowed to expand

To the Editor:

I recently read that the Stewart’s Shop in Altamont is seeking to rezone the property it bought next door to its establishment as commercial to allow for an expansion of the current shop. To my understanding, this was put before the village board once before, prior to Stewart’s purchasing the adjacent property, and was defeated.

I’d like implore the village board and the members of our community to now support this rezoning and allow for Stewart’s to expand and update its operation within our village. Stewart’s has been a longstanding staple within our community — providing hot coffees and cold ice creams to the community and commuters who pass through it.

Stewart’s provides the ice cream and sundae kits for various events that are held within our community. It is a shop where fellowship and community occur on a regular basis — many friendships have been made there and many have been rekindled there.

At one time, when the shop was under different management, I didn’t visit the shop as frequently as I now do. One day, I stopped in and was immediately greeted by a warm and friendly face — a new manager. It is the same face that continues to greet me there every morning.

Carmen, Joe, and the crew there have become folks that I am honored to call friends — that’s not something you find at any other gas station or convenience store.

I underwent major surgery in April. Carmen sent her best wishes, fresh fruits, and some herbal tea to me via my sister (who also frequents the shop) while I recovered at home. The first place I went once I felt well enough to leave the house was Stewart’s. I was greeted excitedly by the employees and was told how much I was missed and how happy they were to see me out and about.

Just the other day, another regular customer purchased scratch-off tickets for two other regular customers who happened to be drinking coffee in the store at the same time as he was stopping in. A random act of kindness that made everyone’s day — those who received scratch-off tickets and those who witnessed this kind deed.

The current store is outdated both functionally and aesthetically, has insufficient parking, a parking lot that can be difficult — if not dangerous — to enter and exit and very little room to navigate inside during peak hours of the day when so many are hustling and bustling to get their morning coffees or evening ice-cream cones.

An expansion could allow for Stewart’s to update its facility to make it more comfortable for its employees and patrons and design it in a fashion that is far more aesthetically pleasing than it is currently and more closely resembles the Victorian architecture that Altamont is so well known for and cherishes.

On another morning, while I was in line to pay for my coffee, I overheard the manager interviewing a prospective employee. She was stressing to this applicant the importance of the community and that he would be expected to learn at the very least, every regular customer’s first name and greet them by it when they walked in. She then went on to list some of them and provided a tid-bit about each of them — their family, children, job, things that may interest them and so on.

I was both impressed and moved that she had retained all of this information about so many members of our community and was thoughtful enough to convey to new staff that they, too, must take the time to get to know and take care of their customers and make them feel welcome in the store.

This overhead conversation is testament to the commitment that Stewart’s and their employees have made to the community to not only serve it, but to embrace and become a part of it. Stewart’s has always been a fine steward of our village — see what I did there?

I feel that the village should concede and allow for Stewarts, a deserving member of our community, to move forward with its plans and create a shop that is attractive and comfortable for all to visit and work in.

Tresa Matulewicz


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