Charlotte-Shelburne Rotary Club

Notes of Meeting, April 26, 2017

by Bob Sanders



President Judy opened the meeting at 07:30 and led the pledge of allegiance.

Kris Engstrom offered a positive thought for the day.


Judy introduced today’s guest:

  • Kevin Clayton, proprietor of Village Wine and Coffee, and today’s speaker.
  • Irina Norell, a prospective member



  • Upcoming meetings
    • 5/3   Kelly Devine, Executive Director, Burlington Business Association
    • 5/10 Destination Imagination team presentations
    • 5/17 Club Meeting-prepare golf balls for upcoming drop
    • 5/24 Mike Comeau, Grocer Extraordinaire
    • 5/31 Tim Williams, Local Boy Makes Good 
    • 6/14 Changing of the Guard celebration at Fisher Brothers Farm in Shelburne.
  • Ric reminded us of the Car Raffle on Friday, May 12, at Shelburne Farms Coach Barn. Those who volunteered should continue to follow up with uncommitted ticket holders. Keep soliciting door prizes and sell more Tulip tickets. Door prizes should be given to Linda Barker as soon as possible.
  • Judy announced that Shelburne Farms’ Dairy Day is Sunday, 7 May, 1-4 pm. The club is asked to provide a parking crew beginning at 12:30 pm.
  • Lara-reported a 22% response rate to the community survey about capital improvements to the Shelburne Library.


Sergeant-at-Arms—Alan Bates asked members to standup when expressing their happiness:

  • Ric-booming stock market
  • John-pop-out day
  • Sam-Veterans ready for Memorial Day
  • Eric-Hockey playoffs and his girls are in Charleston, SC
  • Lara-Star Wars and pop-out day.
  • Joan-husband inducted into VT Sports Hall of Fame; UVM presentation re public service.
  • Irina-happy to be here
  • Alan-happy
  • Jane-Kevin is here
  • Keith-Happy 65th birthday celebration in NYC
  • Phil-daffodils are up
  • Kris-Kevin is here and Bill Root sighting
  • Steve-Kevin
  • Linda-Kevin
  • Susan-Kevin
  • Roz-Tom Graham’s 80th birthday
  • Trafton-Kevin supplying alcohol and caffeine
  • Carole-Kevin here
  • Gary-sighted Don Condon
  • 50/50 pot is about $120 but drawn ticket holder did not find the joker.


Today’s program:

  • George Schiavone introduced today’s speaker, Kevin Clayton, owner of Village Wine and Coffee.
  • Kevin began his presentation by thanking club members for their leadership and commitment to community service and shared his belief in the value of service. He left Shelburne at 20 years old to meditate and find his teacher.
  • He set the tone for his talk with guitar and sang “The House Always Wins,” an original song. Metaphysical and entertaining, he received loud applause for “…the cards are on the table, it’s time to sink or swim, will you play another hand, ohh the house always wins,…Will you meet me at that bar and will we have another round? Oh the house always wins…”
  • Kevin was born in Burlington. His dad bought the Shelburne grocery store, then located in the brick building now home to Kevin’s Village Wine and Coffee shop, in 1963. In 1965, his dad bought the land for the Shelburne Shopping Center. Kevin was nostalgic about how easy and informal business arrangements were back then. The family business started with his dad taking a risk and getting flexible and creative financial support from friends. 
  • Kevin was brought up in Shelburne, then went to college, and then went through a troubling period, trying to find his life’s purpose. He went away for 8 years and found meditation and a teacher. He moved back to Shelburne to help his father and brother. He worked his way up the family business, ultimately managing 55 employees in the grocery store. Then his dad and brother had a stock issue and Kevin decided to leave the family business.
  • Unsure of what’s next, Kevin spent some time looking around, went on retreat in Australia, visited small family vineyards, and talking to friends. He talked with Robin Fuller about community based financing. Kevin got to a key point of his presentation, how one person can make a difference. He mentioned Robin, and others, who have been so important in his life. Coincidently, the space in the original brick building became available. He developed the idea for establishing a coffee and wine shop.
  • Kevin spoke of how much he values personal relationships, trust, and human capital more than financial results. With the stress and challenge of renovating the building, Kevin found encouragement in the book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Laurence Gonzales. The book helped him understand how people react in extreme situations. People who survive focus what’s important in next few minutes, on the here and now, taking one step at time moving in the right direction. He continues to be guided by these principles.
  • He is currently considering expanding his business into the adjoining space being vacated by the antique store. Although he has doubts about the global economy and risks, he is encouraged by the local community. He sees that coffee shops are a “third place,” and his place has become a safe space for people can gather. An expansion would provide more space for additional tables for more customers and laptop refugees. While he has to make a living from the business, he also feels a responsibility to be a good steward of the building his father bought back in 1963. He values his independence and the opportunities he was given. He extends these values to his employees, whom he empowers with keys, cash handling, and other responsibilities.
  • Kevin concluded his talk by reiterating how his life has evolved, without a clear plan, because of personal relationships, trust, and fortuitous timing. He has a good partner in his wife Marcella, solid grounding with his teacher, and comfort in his music.
  • President Judy thanked Kevin and presented him with a book dedication for the Shelburne Library.