Nick Smith, quality assurance specialist, and Allison Gagne, product developer, work in Vermont Village's food lab Tuesday in South Barre. Virtually all of the company's products contain apples or cider vinegar.

Sour is sweet for Barre company’s vinegar shots

BARRE — Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good. Such was the case with Vermont Village and its organic apple cider vinegar. Since its debut more than two years ago, sales have grown. But Vermont Village was looking for a way to broaden its appeal to many consumers who perhaps had trouble adjusting to the bitter or sour taste. Andrew Lawrence, the South Barre company’s vice president of marketing and sales, said customers appreciated the health benefits of taking apple cider vinegar, but even diluting it with water for some people wasn’t “palatable.”
So the company came up with a solution and is now introducing a line of flavored cider vinegar shots, that are sold in 1-ounce, throwaway plastic pouches.

Social media and workers’ comp fraud

The no-fault nature of the Vermont workers’ compensation system means that almost any worker injured on the job will receive benefits. That system relies on an assumption of truthfulness from the injured worker as to the circumstances, extent and nature of the injury. When an injured worker is found to have misrepresented their injury, it’s possible the employer will be able to defend against the claim or discontinue ongoing benefits. This past spring the Vermont Legislature passed legislation addressing employees’ social media account privacy and prohibitions. The law goes into effect on Jan.

Cashiers stand at checkout counters waiting to serve customers at the Potonggang department store in Pyongyang.

The real revolution: Consumer culture in North Korea

The Associated Press
PYONGYANG, North Korea — Like all North Korean adults, Song Un Pyol wears the faces of leader Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather pinned neatly to her left lapel, above her heart. But on her right glitters a diamond-and-gold brooch. Song, who manages a state-run supermarket with freezers stocked full of pork and beef and rows of dairy, bakery and canned goods, is part of a paradigm shift within North Korea. Three generations into the Kim family’s ruling dynasty, markets have blossomed and a consumer culture is taking root. From 120 varieties of “May Day Stadium” brand ice cream to the widespread use of plastic to pay the bills, it’s a change visibly and irreversibly transforming her nation.


Chose your own adventure: The work book

“In a Daze Work” by Siobhán Gallagher, 2017, TarcherPerigee, $16, 156 pages. They say you can choose your mood. If you want to be happy tomorrow, then be happy. Want to get rid of the blahs? It’s all mind over matter: Pick some other way to be and don’t forget to tell yourself.

Workers strip flooring and route electrical cables Aug. 14, inside the 15,000 square-foot space formerly occupied by Joanne's Fabrics inside the Berlin Mall. The space will the home to Planet Fitness, which hopes to open by the end of the year.

Planet Fitness beefs up mall

BERLIN — Berlin Mall officials said they’ve found the perfect new tenant in leading international health-club franchiser Planet Fitness to re-occupy 15,000 square feet of prime mall space. “We’ve been searching for years to find the right tenant for this high-profile space,” said Ken Simon, vice president of Heidenberg Properties Group, owners of Berlin Mall LLC. “In addition to providing Central Vermont residents with a meaningful service at great value, Planet Fitness provides good jobs for the area’s work force.”
Berlin Mall LLC, the owner of Berlin Mall, announced it has signed a long-term lease with Planet Fitness. The company has approximately 10 million members and more than 1,300 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Canadfa, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Berlin Mall marks the fourth Planet Fitness franchise in Vermont in addition to locations in Essex Junction, South Burlington and St.

The Den at Harry's Hardware owners pose behind the granite counter at the new pub in Cabot. From left are Johanna and Rory Thibault and Bobby and Stephany Searles.

Paints to pints: Hardware store offers more than hardware

CABOT — On Main Street, the lively sounds of keyboard, song and laughter drift from the hardware store, as the man behind the bar serves up eight craft beers on tap to thirsty patrons. At a time when entrepreneurial spirits often enable small villages to thrive, the owners of Harry’s Hardware have taken a new approach to reinvigorating a 100-year-old Vermont business. With The Den at Harry’s Hardware, they have created a new meeting place to bring people into town for a good laugh and a cold beer. Bobby and Stephany Searles own the Cabot Village Store, the only place to buy groceries in the village. When the hardware store next door was put up for auction in 2014, they made the winning bid, and installed new gas pumps out front.

Small Business Administration Administrator-designate, former wrestling entertainment executive, Linda McMahon testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

SBA head sees business being held back

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Six months into her tenure as head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon sees a split among small business owners — they are increasingly optimistic, she says, but many are held back by their inability to get loans or find the right workers for jobs that are staying open. “Entrepreneurs are willing again to be bigger risk-takers than they have been over the past eight years,” McMahon said in a phone interview this week with The Associated Press. But, she said, there are also lingering effects of the Great Recession, and “I think there is still a caution.”
McMahon’s observations matched owners’ self-assessments in surveys including ones released by Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and by the National Federation of Independent Business. She also named some of the stumbling blocks that many owners have cited in addition to a scarcity of loans and workers: regulations, taxes and the cost of health care, all issues President Donald Trump has pledged to address.

Tax Commissioner Kaj Samson.

State listens to taxpayers’ concerns

Because Vermont sales tax laws are so complicated, to do their job correctly, cashiers at Pinky’s on State, a deli and gift shop in downtown Montpelier have to conduct a “mini-audit with each customer,” Pinky’s co-owner, Nancy Martel, told a four-person panel from the Vermont Department of Taxes, during the department’s recent listening tour on tax concerns. The mini-audits, she said, can take up to three minutes each, a real concern during a busy lunch-hour rush. The main problem for a business like hers, she said, is some items are taxed some of the time but not always. “Chips are not taxed if sold alone but are taxed if sold with a sandwich. If they are part of your meal they are taxed.

Members of the University of Vermont Dining Services team visit Pete's Greens in Craftsbury recently  as part of a tour of Vermont farms organized by Sodexo's Vermont First program.

UVM nails goals for locally sourced food

It’s a challenge the University of Vermont did not shy away from — supporting family farms through the purchase of locally grown and raised produce and meat products. So, five years ago UVM joined the national Real Food Challenge with the goal to increase the purchase of Vermont food products so that 20 percent of what’s served on campus would be locally grown. UVM committed to reaching that goal by 2020. Instead, it met the goal this year, three years ahead of schedule. Now, the school has upped its commitment to 25 percent by 2020.

Jen Cohen, left, shows participants from the Twin Rivers Supervisory Union where and how to hit a steel drum during a team building exercise Aug. 3.

Steel drums bring power of music to corporate culture

RUTLAND — The steel drum music of Trinidad is making its way to Rutland via Calypso Consulting, a new business set up by Jennifer Cohen. Cohen, a classically trained pianist and violist with 30 years experience as a performer and educator, wanted to bring what she describes as a transformational experience to the workplace. “Music has a way of connecting us like no other experience. I have seen how the transformative power of collaborative music-making can be used to achieve outstanding results,” she said. Cohen taught herself how to play steel drums, and first introduced it into Clarendon Elementary School, where she taught.