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Davis IGA celebrates 50 years in business with big party

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KENT – Old Kent came out to salute Davis IGA for the 50th anniversary celebration June 2 in the Kent Community House and people enjoyed the opportunity to share stories and talk with members of the Davis family and Greg Eads II, who has owned it for just over a year.

Gary Davis spoke for his family and said the entire family was touched by how many people attended the event and the good wishes they received on the anniversary.

“I look around this room and all the old faces that I see, it is just incredible. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. There was some heavenly intervention here I think,” said Gary Davis.

“It has been the Davis family pleasure to be an integral part of this town and part of the fabric of Kent. The Davises go back to the year 1824, so we’ve been here for over 200 years and its been our pleasure to serve you,” he said.

The Community House was packed with well wishers, who enjoyed the free food and music performed by the AlgoRhythmics.

Betsey Ohmen attended with her mom, Paddy Matson, and she said she recognized many faces in the crowd. Charlie Davis was the best man at Paddy’s wedding.

Ohmen had big hugs for Marcia Glynn, who worked for many years at the IGA and now lives in Tennesee. Lots of hugs and smiles were shared among those attending.

“I haven’t been here for 10 years,” Glynn said. “Kent looks the same.”

Carol McCann attended with her daughters, Ane Starr and Kathy McCann. Kathy said she was only four years old when the store opened but she remembers it and growing up she was close friends with Elaine Davis, the youngest of the four Davis siblings.

Carol Franken has lived in Kent for almost four decades and she shared a story about Charlie Davis when her son, who is now 38, was still in diapers.

“’Those diapers are going to go on sale,’ he told me. Charlie was such a sweet man,” Franken said.

Memorabilia and photo displays were set up on the perimeter of the hall. Guests took the time to look through many of the historical photos that were put together by Gary and Bobbie Davis.

Gary Davis spoke about half-way through the four-hour party and he attributed their success in great part to the staff and crew that his family worked with.

“You have to have a crew that knows what it is doing, is courteous, kind, focused on customer service and I think that set us apart. A lot of the alumni are here today,” he said, saluting Marcia Glynn and Marty McKay for attending. He also recognized the important relationships with vendors for equipment and food supplies. In particular, he thanked Bozzuto’s, their wholesaler, who has been with the store since the beginning.

“Lastly, this comes from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of our customers. You have supported us for 50 years. You were always there to give a compliment. We went through Covid, people were so supportive of what we were doing. It really meant so much to us because it was a really tough time,” Gary Davis said.

Davis IGA was started by Charlie and Ann Davis and it opened May 30, 1974. Charlie had been working for the A&P in both Kent and New Milford but he knew he wanted his own store and he reached out to Gordon and Jack Casey, who owned the Kent Green. Davis IGA became one of the first stores to open and an anchor for the shopping center. Marge Smith, curator of the Kent Historical Society, shared a brief history of the store with party attendees.

In March 2023, the Davis family sold the business to Greg Eads II, who had worked for the company for over 20 years. Eads had the idea for the 50th anniversary party. Gary Davis said they now consider him part of the family.

Eads offered lots of thank you’s and saluted his “amazing” staff, who worked to put the party together.

“I have the best staff of any grocery store out there and I know that,” he said. “I love Kent. Just being able to be a part of this community as a third-generation family Kent person, I have nothing but love for everyone in this room.”

Ed Epstein shared a poem that he wrote in honor of the anniversary:

Davis IGA by Ed Epstein

Great news!

Today is a special day, the birthday of Davis IGA.

We’ll have a party, it will be real nifty, to celebrate our store as it turns fifty.

It all began with Charlie and Anne, they had themselves a master plan.

A local supermarket, they said with glee, it won’t be another A&P.

Gary, Audrey, Elaine, and Marie, helped mom and dad with each grocery.

Some stayed fifty years, others not as long, a local job – how could they go wrong.

And many a Kent kid, did quickly learn, to handle the first money they would ever earn.

Kathy the longest is still always there, serving her meat – well done, medium, or rare.

Ed was thrilled when Elliot came back, the deli is wonderful, nothing does it lack.

You find almost everything – whatever you wish.

Hooray, hooray, for potato knish, and deli sandwiches, boy they are neat, as is all else, always something to eat. I walk to the back, my taste buds quiver, can’t wait to take home my container of chopped liver!!!

But time moves on and things do change, Gary retires, but Audrey remains.

Congratulations to Gary for a job well done, time for you to have more fun.

So here we are after fifty years for Gary and family, we shout out cheers – Davis IGA remains to meet your needs – Good luck, best wishes to Gregory Eads.

Lynn Worthington
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