Inside Buxton Food & Feed, a community gathering place

Buxton – For ten years, the old Buxton Food and Feed store has been home to a community gathering place, serving up free coffee and companionship to Buxton community residents and the occasional visitor to the Buxton Trailhead of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Located on the corner of McPherson and Fisher Roads, the building, built in 1890, has been host to a variety of businesses and enterprises throughout Buxton’s history.

Michael and Margene Borreggine. Photo courtesy of Neil Powell

Among other things, the town’s former post office, feed store, general store, a swanky antique store called Willow Nest featured in the May 2004 edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a handmade home and garden shop, and now, a weekend community center have all sat inside the historic 128-year-old structure.

Michael and Margene Borreggine bought the property, which also hosts a home in addition to the feed store, in 2006. Michael is a special education teacher, currently with Beaverton School District, and Margene works at Intel.

“When we got this, it was a bare box with lime-green trim,” said Margene. It’s been repainted since then to look closer to its historic color.

In 2008, heavy snowfall rolled into the region, snowing everyone in Buxton in for more than a week.

A living room-style sitting area. Chas Hundley//Banks Post

Margene decided to put out a sign – “Free lattes” – for the people walking by outside the shop to go sledding.  “One by one, people would trudge by and stop in,” she said, and she’d give them hot chocolate or a coffee drink.

She said it just grew from there.

These days, they’re open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kids come in, get a free drink, and sit down to play a board game, cards, or a video game on one of the computers lined up on the wall. Spongebob plays quietly on one TV tucked into a corner.

Inside, eclectic furnishings and decorations line the walls; bookshelves  are scattered throughout the store, and a table perpetually inhabited by a puzzle faces Fisher Road. A cozy living room-style area with a fireplace fills one corner.

Sherry Hanson’s watercolor class. Chas Hundley//Banks Post

On the second Saturday of every month, Buxton resident Sherry Hanson teaches a watercolor class inside the Buxton Food and Feed, drawing around a dozen artists who fill a row of tables as they paint.

A full espresso bar, free of charge, lines one wall, where either Margene, Michael, or two teens volunteer to make the drinks for anyone who walks in. A donation jar sits on the counter (“coffee fund” it reads), but no one is required to donate to get a free drink.

In addition to their regular hours, other uses of the site by local community groups and families are common. Funerals, parties, and community gatherings come through the building, which the Borreggine’s lend out for free. A men’s and women’s bible study meets weekly in the building.

The coffee shop follows the school year – it’s not open during the summer – giving the Borreggine’s free reign to pursue other interests in the summer.

When asked why they run this gathering place, free of charge, Michael said that some give 10% of their income to the church, but that he feels this is his way of giving to the community.

In partnership with the Buxton Assembly of God, the shop is kept open with volunteers, donations, and the Intel Involved Matching Grant Program – a program sponsored by the Intel Foundation designed to allow Intel workers to volunteer and support local causes by giving $10 for every hour of time they donate to a nonprofit, with up to $10,000 available for any one organization, according to the program’s website.

The community

James Congdon volunteers every Sunday at the coffee shop. Chas Hundley//Banks Post

On any given weekend, families from Buxton and surrounding areas trickle in to grab a free cup of coffee, converse with neighbors, and perhaps play a game or do a puzzle.

Over the two days that this journalist visited, the shop was always busy – and everyone knew each other.

Brad Congdon, pastor of the Manning Community Church, said he has seen businesses come and go here. “Several businesses tried to make it a retail store, but Mike and Margene resurrected the history of it,” he said.

Congdon’s son, James, is one of two teen volunteers who help out at the shop – Jessica VanLoo being the other – on the weekend.

They make espresso drinks, clean, greet people who come in through the door, and help make the place a welcoming community center.

While the name on the building says Buxton Food & Feed, and Margene said that “for awhile it was known as Starbuxton,” it’s now known by the community simply as “the coffee shop.”