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Readers: This story was updated at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 10, to correct the name of The Tuscan Sunflower. 

BENNINGTON — Four much-loved local businesses are for sale.

Flower shop The Tuscan Sunflower, eatery TJ’s Fish Fry, family-owned Willy’s Variety Store and Bakery and entertainment shop Knapp’s will all change hands in the coming months.

TJ’s Fish Fry — owned by Thomas “T.J.” Greene — has been closed for several months. The property is at 100 Depot St. in Bennington, and the buildings and 1.7-acre parcel are listed as “Active with contract,” according to the real estate listing with Hoisington Realty. Greene announced in June on Facebook that he might continue serving seafood through a food trailer.

The future of the other locations is less certain.

Though the pandemic has affected the local economy and caused closures, not all of the businesses are for sale because of COVID-19. For some shop owners, the timing is coincidental.

Willy’s Variety Store and Bakery will pass from the Maroney family’s hands after decades of ownership.

“It’s been a successful business. All I can say for myself is that it’s been 55 to 60 really good years, and it’s just time to do something different,” Ed Maroney said.

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He added that his daughters were practically born at the shop, and they’re ready for something new. The establishment, at 300 Gage St., has been a staple of the community. Maroney said he hopes the next owners find their niche.

Lynn Frost, owner of The Tuscan Sunflower of 318 North St., echoes Maroney’s sentiments. She put her business on the market because of retirement, not the pandemic.

“I’m choosing to sell, because it’s time to move on. It’s been wonderful, but this was always a part of my and my husband’s plan,” she said.

Frost said she hopes the new buyer is someone interested in running a flower shop, but she’s open to anything, and wants the new owners to be creative in their own way.

It’s unclear what plans Jayne Outwater has for Knapp’s, at 417 Main St., but retirement seems to have prompted the choice to put the shop on the market.

Whatever their future plans, the shop owners remain invested in the Bennington community.

“This is our home, this is our community, and this is where we’ll stay,” said Lynn Frost.


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