When Randii Reddick is at home in Hagaman, she’s a different person.
“If I stay home, I get depressed,” she said.
Reddick, who’s been in a wheelchair the last 10 years, explains there is nothing for her to do at home.
“You can only clean the house so many times,” she said.
But Reddick was smiling widely Tuesday morning, the first day the Liberty Fresh Market in the town of Amsterdam was open to customers, as more and more people entered the store and walked through the aisles. “I like to help people,” said Reddick, who works at the store.
The Liberty Fresh Market is owned and operated by Liberty, the Montgomery County chapter of NYSARC Inc., a statewide advocacy organization that serves people with disabilities.
Liberty has eighteen employees who have either physical or mental disabilities working in the store. They all won’t be working at the same time, since their shifts vary, but they will all be learning the same skills that would be important to them when moving on into different retail jobs.
According to Dawn Jacksland, director of marketing and sales at Liberty, employees will learn 14 different skills, such as how to pack and weigh items, how to stock and clean shelves and how to work a cash register.
How fast a person might learn those skills depends on each individual, but it would take roughly a year for someone to learn the necessary skills before moving on.
Reddick beamed as she showed off her artwork, which was hanging at the entrance of the store. Her eyes lit up as she described how she painted the tree and the bright colors on each side.
Maggie Rodriguez of Amsterdam described the products all around the store, from the sugar-free items for people who have diabetes to aisle filled with different spices. For Rodriguez, who is developmentally disabled, working at the store helps her interact with people, which she enjoys. She has fun showing customers around the store or answering questions on where to find items.
The Fresh Market, located on Route 30, has over 1,000 items. The fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, yogurt and artisan cheese all come from Montgomery County farms.
The store also sells items that are gluten-free and has a deli in the back where it bakes bread for customers.
It will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Reddick is excited about the fact kids who come to the store are allowed to draw on the tables by the entrance as a way to be artistic.
Again, she beamed, while surrounded by folks she knows and customers who walk in, hand baskets hanging from their elbows, like at any store.
“When I’m around people doing stuff,” Reddick said, “I’m happy.”