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All invited to celebrate 50th anniversary with Davis IGA

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KENT – Running a business for 50 years deserves a party and Davis IGA is inviting everyone to join in the celebration June 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kent Community House.

Davis IGA is celebrating its 50th anniversary June 2 with a party at the Kent Community House. Former owner, Gary Davis, joined current owner, Greg Eads II, and Audrey Davis, a current employee and former owner, Monday at the store. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

There will be free food, music and beverages available, as well as a look back at the history of the town’s grocery store.

Owner Greg Eads II has hired a band, the AlgoRhythmics, to provide the music that he hopes will get people’s toes tapping.

Eads purchased Davis IGA March 15, 2023, after having worked 20 years for the Davis family. Audrey Davis has continued to work for the company, but her brother, Gary, retired after the business was sold.

Gary Davis has been going through papers and looking back over the Davis IGA history. He gave a talk Wednesday, May 22, at the Kent Senior Center during a Lunch and Learn program, on the history of the IGA and sharing poster boards displaying historical photos (that will also be shared during the anniversary party.)

“We have no idea how many people to expect,” said Eads. There are no RSVPs. It is free and no ticket is required. Attendees will be encouraged to make donations to the Kent Food Bank.  There will be a place to leave food or a monetary donation.

“We invited everyone we could think of who had a lot to do with this place over the years. It is really open to anyone. It will be BYOB,” Eads said, but there will be an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages. The menu is burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, vegetarian options like Beyond Burgers, vegetarian hot dogs and nuggets. There will be several salads, potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw, cookies and cake.

“I think it is going to be fun,” said Gary Davis, while sitting in the store office Monday. “We had a 25th, 35th and a 40th event here and we lucked out with the weather. It seems like the weekends are iffy with the weather.”

Eads decided to hold the party at the Kent Community House because it is a venue that works regardless of the weather and he’s looking forward to seeing the band on a stage.

“They also have good facilities for serving a lot of food,” Eads said. “We’ll be making all the food here on site and bringing it over there.”

He’s excited to see the crowd of people.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. We’ve all been here a long time now, and this gets people together that we haven’t seen in a while, including all of the alumni from previous generations,” Eads said.

Gary Davis is looking forward to connecting with a lot of different people.

“It was very difficult when we retired. I wanted to turn this over to him and I wasn’t around here that much. So a lot of times you didn’t get a chance to say thanks for your support, but this will be an opportunity,” Gary said.

The history of how the store got started on May 30, 1974 will be a focus. Audrey Davis remembers how her dad, Charlie, would have meetings in the driveway of their home with Gordon Casey, who owned and developed the Kent Green with his brother, Jack. Davis IGA wasn’t the first business on the Green but it was an early one, built before the Post Office.

Former delivery drivers have been invited back to town as well as long time employees. Marcia Ostrander Glynn lives in Tennessee and she will be visiting for the event. They also expect to see Marty McKay of Canaan, who was the long-time grocery manager. He started out with Charlie Davis at the A&P.

They particularly look forward to seeing Bozzuto’s, which is a wholesale distributor of food and household products to retailers like the IGA. Based in Cheshire, it has been in business for 75 years. The connection between the two companies goes back to before the store opened.

“They were instrumental in putting my father and mother in business,” Gary Davis said. “When they were getting the financing to buy this business, they were dealing with Colonial Bank and Trust, which used to be where Union (Bank) is. Colonial decided they weren’t going to back them. Adam Bozzuto, who was the head of Bozzuto’s, took a chance on them.”

A lot of business was done on a handshake back then, Gary said. “It is different now, but it is how you form relationships. Some work out and some don’t. I’m happy to say Colonial is long gone.”

Eads said that over 50 percent of their purchasing is through Bozzuto’s.

“Bozzuto’s is still very good to us this day. I can’t say enough good things about Bozzuto’s,” Eads said.
The relationships with these suppliers and service providers are an important part of the behind-the-scenes operation.

“Most people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their family members during their waking hours. So you do get close to them for sure,” Eads said.

The store will be partially open June 2. Anyone wanting something from the deli should plan to get there before noon. There will be a manager and a couple cashiers helping customers who aren’t at the party.

Lynn Worthington
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