A century and a half tradition of retail sales at the old McCaughey Bros. building was restored last week when the Bodega Country Store reopened its doors following an 18-month hiatus that allowed for refurbishment and transfer of ownership.
Though still a work in progress, as the new proprietress works to obtain permits for a planned deli and beer and wine sales, the store’s revival means local residents no longer need face a long drive for food staples and other needs in short supply at home.
It also provides a place for passersby to grab a bite or a beverage en route between the Sonoma Coast and inland destinations along busy Bodega Highway, augmenting what’s available at Colleen’s Coffee Shop nearby and The Casino Bar & Grill, a mainstay of the town’s small commercial district.
For Tom Bonfigli and his elderly mother, Helen, who owns the building in which the market and several neighboring businesses operate, the new store also more faithfully aligns with their vision of a community hub after several years of dissatisfaction with the former proprietor.
“We wanted someone who had an interest in the community they were going to be operating in, not just for tourists,” Bonfigli said. “That’s what’s wrong with the county. We cannot forget about the local population. There has to be a combination, a healthy balance.”
Enter the store’s new owner, Ariel Coddington, who moved from Sebastopol to a house on Salmon Creek Road in early 2017 and was interested to discover the market in the center of town was for sale by then-owner Michael Fahmie, who took over the store in 2009. During his tenure, the store increasingly came to reflect his preoccupation with film director Alfred Hitchcock and his iconic film, “The Birds.”
Fahmie, who had been struggling financially, was evicted and the market shuttered before any sale could be negotiated. But Coddington, with help from her boyfriend, Bradley Mills, contacted the Bonfiglis and worked from there.
Coddington, 36, likes the idea of providing a resource to the community and to the wider public at the same time.
“I really love this town. It just seems like this hidden gem,” said Coddington, a native of Israel who moved to California six years ago from New York City. “It has a strong community, and now that (the store) is open, I’m meeting all these people I didn’t know before, and they’re telling me all these stories. It just confirms my feeling.”
The market offers a variety of groceries, fresh produce, locally produced eggs and dairy products, including many organics and gluten-free options.
Once Coddington obtains the proper permits, she hopes to have a well-stocked deli, as well.