Following 20-year closure, descendant and fiancée bring family business back to life in Erving – The Recorder

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Following 20-year closure, descendant and fiancée bring family business back to life in Erving – The Recorder

Published: 7/8/2021 1:59:46 PM ERVING — Two decades after their family business of 86 years closed its doors, Jon F

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Published: 7/8/2021 1:59:46 PM

ERVING — Two decades after their family business of 86 years closed its doors, Jon Flis and his fiancée, Liz Donald, have brought Flis Market back to life.

Originally operating out of Baldwinville, Flis Market was started in 1915 and run by Jon Flis’ great-grandfather. Both Flis’ father and uncle had worked there. Flis and Donald credit a desire to further family and community legacies as the reason why they’ve decided to reopen the shop after 20 years.

Set in the 200-year-old former home of John Erving, the town’s namesake, the newly engaged couple hopes their business can become a valued part of Erving. Previously, the 5 West Main St. building housed the Pocket Saver Market owned by Vicki Fellows. The 4,747 square feet of space on 0.44 acres includes the business and two apartments — one of which is occupied by Flis and Donald.

Flis has a culinary background, having attended the New England Culinary Institute and worked in food sales and restaurants across the nation. Donald has a background in communication and worked as major gifts officer at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill. The pair decided to combine their talents and buy the Erving building in October 2020. Since then, they have completely renovated the building’s interior, blending a modern aesthetic with the charm of its antiquity.

Although it didn’t start in Erving, Donald said that the appeal of Flis Market will remain the same.

“People really connected with how personable, warm and fun the original Flis Market was,” Donald said. “How community-oriented it was. We really want it to be warm and vibrant.”

She said collaboration and mutual appreciation between their business and the town will be key to cultivating such an environment.

“The people of Erving are so proud,” Donald said. “Our hope for this market is that the community will help us build it. … The store is going to continue to evolve and become sort of this living organism.”

Flis and Donald plan to connect with the community by providing a variety of goods and services, ranging from an array of liquor to Friday night takeout dinners where Flis will smoke meat in-house. Donald said even the goods they sell and ingredients they use should help strengthen the bond Flis Market has with the area.

“We really want to highlight local farms, food and products,” Donald said.

The couple made it clear that reopening the family business was not merely a financial decision. The two got engaged on the shop’s opening day of June 29, which Flis and Donald say signifies the personal investment they have in Flis Market.

“This is just the canvas,” Donald said of Flis Market. “This is just the space that it lives in.”

Eventually, Flis and Donald hope Flis Market becomes enough of a staple in the region that it may one day be a visitor’s center for the Pioneer Valley. So far, they’re optimistic that they’re on the right track.

“Reception locally has been awesome,” Donald said. “The town of Erving has been awesome.”

Flis Market is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The store is closed on Mondays.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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