A Healthy Start to a New Year: Fresh Start Market Opening in FranklinDec 30, 2020 10:21AM ● By Nancy Somera
It might be Bonnie and Mark Corso steering the ship, but the swell of enthusiasm from the Franklin community has supported their plans to open Fresh Start Market.
With more than 70 combined years of experience in the food industry—Mark in sales, distribution and grocery stores, and Bonnie in restaurants and food warehousing and distribution—an idea that was conceived nearly five years ago is now finally being realized. At first, they believed a stall at the now-popular Boston Public Market would be the right place to sell their curated selection of unique local products, but they were opposed to being in direct competition with the suppliers themselves, so they declined. With busy work lives and childrearing responsibilities to four, the over-extended Corsos decided to put their idea on hold.
Then the pandemic hit and the way of doing business in most industries, including the food industry, was turned upside down. Bonnie quickly realized that smaller local farms had inventory that needed distribution. “I saw that mom-and-pop farmstand sales were increasing, so I started to make calls to farmers directly. Not only was inventory available, but farmers told me they would adjust to meet our needs,” says Bonnie. So, Fresh Start Market took form.
A market study confirmed that the town of Franklin was not only receptive, but had been asking for a farm-to-table-style market with local, healthy, sustainably grown food. Once the Corso’s plans were learned, it soon became a community effort with numerous Franklin residents supporting their ideas. Faith Kaplan and Matthew Cail, of C&K Realty, provided invaluable advice and helped them find the market’s 6,200-square-foot space located in a plaza just outside the newly revamped center of town in high traffic and great visibility of route 140, close to Dean College and other local retailers. Also, Jim Ruzzo of BGood Restaurant sold them greatly discounted equipment that was no longer needed.
“We have to give credit to the entire community for its help,” Bonnie says, sharing that many people stepped up with recommendations for skilled workers like electricians and selling them infrastructure items at a reduced price. When a call for office furniture went out, furniture was donated, leaving them money for other things to make the storefront better. The experience has been soul-enriching. “People are genuinely good, helpful and supportive,” the Corsos maintain. “It has been wonderful working with like-minded people who are trying to do better and be positive. We all need that right now.”
Other ways to support the project include taking part in the Brick Wall fundraiser and becoming an investor through Mainvest, where investors purchase a revenue-sharing note and Fresh Start Market agrees to share a percentage of its future revenue until investors receive a return on investment. The market will also be participating in the Franklin First gift card program, a program designed specifically to support local businesses in Franklin which allows money to stay local.
When it opens, Fresh Start Market will be stocked with items from more than 3,000 farms and producers covering six New England states and a few key selections from New York. A butcher shop, fish counter (including a lobster tank), a bakery and floral shop are situated alongside aisles and refrigerator walls housing produce, staples and ready-to-eat food made from only clean ingredients. Kitchen protocols are in place to accommodate particular diets, including vegan, keto and gluten-free, where cross-contamination cannot occur. The Corsos have been able to keep prices competitive by negotiating with farms and butchering and packaging its own meat in the on-site commercial kitchen. “Our customers will enjoy better-quality meat and poultry for the price,” Bonnie explains, believing that they will be able to compete with Whole Foods Market, but on a smaller scale. Curbside pickup and delivery will also be available.
With an eye to the future, Bonnie continuously looks for new trending foods and enjoys finding ways to create healthy, marketable products out of all local ingredients. Many local startup food businesses have already found a home at Fresh Start Market. Hiring is currently underway and anyone that is 18+ with experience in the following departments should contact the Corsos: deli counter, commercial baking, health and beauty, butcher, cashier, distribution and food handling.
Despite the long days readying the store for opening, Bonnie shares, “Mark is always telling me that we can’t take ourselves too seriously; that we need to have fun with it.” That’s exactly what they have done and are eager to share their enthusiasm, fun spirit and Fresh Start Market with the community.
Location: 365 W. Central St., Franklin. For more information, call 774-847-1128, email [email protected] or visit FreshStart.market. Follow on social media at @FreshStartMkt.
Nancy Somera is the managing editor of Natural Awakenings Boston and Rhode Island editions.