Christie’s is 85 years young this year.
To celebrate, the country market returns to its (ho ho) roots.
Every Sunday through November, the rustic store on residential Cross Highway hosts a farmer’s market. Like the popular market itself, it’s both funky and fun.
And get this: Christie’s owners John and Renee Hooper don’t charge the farmers or other vendors a cent.
Nor do they ask for any percentage of sales.
“We’re just trying to serve the community,” Renee says.
They’re doing more than trying. They’re succeeding.
This past Sunday, delighted customers — many with young kids — wandered among the dozen or so stalls. Of course there’s the usual fruits and veggies: cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, berries, Swiss chard, arugula and more.
It’s all Connecticut grown. The farmer from Smith’s Acres in Niantic says everything is fresh picked: “Last thing last night, or early this morning.” It doesn’t get fresher than that.
But there’s more. One vendor offers beef, pork and salmon. Nothin’ But Foods sells ginger lemon cashew snack bars, and honey-sweetened granola.
There’s honey, goat soaps, maple syrup, hot and cool pickles. Mirabelle — most recently on Main Street — is at Christie’s, selling cheeses out of a mobile unit.
Plus candles and art cards. And a pair of singer/guitar players, Dave Allen and Mark Ehmann, whose soft music lends just the right background to the market.
The duo plays next to Frosty Bear, the ice cream gazebo that gives new meaning to coconut chocolate chip and other amazing flavors.
“Families love this,” Renee says proudly. “And the farmers are thrilled.”
“People are so nice,” says Frank, of the Olive Oil Factory. “Everyone is friendly, and the owners are very easy-going.
“There are no hassles. Most places like this have all these silly rules.”
And, Frank adds, “I appreciate that they don’t use plastic bags.”
Back in the day — 1926, to be exact — Christie’s started out as a market for goods grown on the farm surrounding it. It was a true “farmer’s market.”
Today it hosts a 2011 version of that same idea. The goat soap and granola may be new — but if Christie Masiello magically returned to Cross Highway, she’d definitely recognize the place.
And the peas and beans.
(Christie’s farmer’s market hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Coming this fall: harvest goods — and wine.)