We have so many eccentric, interesting characters at The Plant that we wanted to tell some of the stories and give a little snapshot of these beautiful souls that make this place special!
How do you describe Kersten Fitzgerald? She has an eye for detail, a nose for quality and the woman is persistent! She is a petite little thing with a lot of fire. Kersten can make things look beautiful and she makes things taste amazing. She came to Fair Game after a long term stint as a Montessori teacher for SAS Institute. She did the important work of teaching those little ones for almost 30 years. At some point, she thought she could use a change and she wanted to stay closer to home in Chatham County. At the same time Lyle was wanting to add a pantry filled with curated artisan foods, snacks, wines and delicacies made in North Carolina. At the time, it was a big idea. It would take a lot of organizational skills, sales expertise, business savvy and plain guts and risk.
A lot of thought went into whether this was a good fit for both Lyle and Kersten. As friends, could they work together, could Kersten be taught all these new skills, could Lyle mentor his dear friend?
Well, the big leap happened and Kersten came on as Fair Game Pantry Manager and jump in did she ever. Lyle and Kersten put their heads together and came up with locally made wooden crates filled with spirits and mixers and all sorts of fun themed items. Big success. They took off. Kersten would build them and Lyle would deliver them. There were tons of vendors to interview, develop relationships with and taste their wares. Some small vendors needed coaching about how to package and best ways to sell. Value add you might say in creating this local economy that makes this place so special.
Well, times goes on and we get hit with a pandemic. And for a minute no one knew what was going to happen. Everything closed down and we started taking advantage of that time to work on infrastructure at The Plant. Lyle and Arlo started creating more park space, outdoor seating, and nature trails so that when people came out they could have space to spread out. I came by one day and there was the Montessori teacher driving a tractor.
As the pantry grew, so did Kersten’s skills.Many days she could be seen driving a forklift, organizing bottling of new spirits, figuring out how to fix equipment and all the while selling the hell out of all the cool foods at Fair Game.
One day we watched an 18 wheeler truck driver who was having a bad day run right into the flower planters outside on the patio. He could not have cared less and drove right through the grass and sped out of the parking lot. The 500 pounds of dirt and plants was tilted over. Folks walked by and scratched their heads about how to fix this hazard. The next day, Kersten brought in her trusty crowbar and somehow by herself leveraged this huge heavy planter and fixed it with the crow bar and a fork lift. We have had a lot more traffic with spring and our bathrooms are heavily used while new ones are getting built. Last week, someone simply broke the women’s toilet seat completely in half. We said, damn….call the plumber again! Kersten went over to Lowe’s, procured a toilet seat, got in with her tools and replaced the old seat that was rusted and locked down. No job is too tough for this Montessori teacher/pantry manager/badass! Say hello to Kersten next time you are at the Plant. You can find her pulling her wagon or behind the bar, or dusting shelves or maybe fixing the plumbing!