Roxbury will soon have a "new" Old-Fashioned General Store
By Brian Sweeney
Old-fashioned charm and modern convenience will be blended when Roxbury General opens on January 18.
Husband-and-wife Doug McLaurine and Robin Factor are busy putting the finishing touches on a business venture that will feature an interesting mix of locally made products, everyday goods and even a scattering of basic hardware supplies.
The store will be located in the Main Street, Roxbury building that most recently housed the Enderlin Gallery (and for many years, a hardware store). Owner Louis Wendell recently completed an extensive renovation of the 1850s building, including the installation of new electric, plumbing and heating systems.
Doug and Robin have owned a home in Roxbury for about three years. While Robin is continuing her career in publishing (content management), Doug recently retired from the publishing field (technology) and was looking for a new endeavor.
“Pretty soon after we bought a place near here, we decided that we would like to do something in Roxbury,” Doug recalled. “When I decided to retire, we started looking seriously.”
He continued, “There really wasn’t available space, so we initially thought we could offer something online, but it didn’t thrill me that much.”
A perfect space
When a storefront became available in the Wendell building, Doug and Robin instinctively knew that the situation was right for their vision.
“The architecture was just perfect. We want a modern general store and we liked the feel of this,” Doug pointed out.
After they had made leasing arrangements, Doug said that he and Robin began sketching out plans for everything they might to want to offer in a general store. Locally crafted jewelry, ceramics, soaps, wood products and other items will be mainstays in the store. However, to truly convey the General Store atmosphere of yesteryear, the store will also carry an eclectic assortment of items like hammers, nails, screws, underwear, stationery, children’s toys and household items. There will be a scattering of antiques, as well, plus a pantry area with dry goods foods such as coffee and pasta.
“In a way, it’s a mini department store,” Doug explained.
The store will also sell a selection of men’s dress shirts under the Roxbury General moniker. The shirts are being manufactured in New England, at one of the last of the country’s shirt-makers.
“After we get the store stocked, ready and rolling, we will also sell our products online,” Doug noted.
Unique online sales
He indicated that the web-based sales will be largely focused on “Catskill-themed” goods that are unique.
“We’ll sell the things that you can’t get everywhere online,” Doug added.
On the other hand, when visitors stop in at Roxbury General, the owners are busy stocking the shelves with an assortment of goods that are useful — or maybe just plain interesting and fun.
“What we’re trying to do in the store is to offer something that people need and want – a necessity, a gift or a memento,” noted Doug.
In addition to their own ideas for shaping the store, Doug and Robin have both spent ample time soliciting input from community members about the types of items that should populate the shelves in their store.
Doug laughed that, with the exception of “fish,” almost all of the recommendations have been heeded.
Along with providing an assortment of essential goods, Doug said the store will also have some elements simply aimed at providing some fun for visitors. There will be things to interest men and women shoppers, as well as a gigantic chalkboard and related items to keep children entertained while parents browse.
While the store will be steeped in the traditions of yesterday, Doug joked that the Roxbury General décor won’t include a checkerboard and pickle barrels — staples of such traditional stores.
With the store’s opening less than two weeks away, Doug and Robin are awaiting numerous shipments of goods as they fill the shelves of the 1,500-square-foot retail space. Because winter and early spring are traditionally slow periods for many businesses, the owners are looking at the first few months of operation as a period of adjustment that will further enhance their knowledge of the types of goods that customers are seeking.
In the meantime, the owners are receiving plenty of well wishes and they are always open to new suggestions for the product line. Doug invites anyone with store stocking ideas to stop by and drop them into the suggestion box, or e-mail recommendations to: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The community has been incredibly interested in supporting this and that’s been extremely encouraging to us. We want it to be not just a shop, but something that is useful and interesting, fun and helpful to the community,” commented Doug.
He said that Roxbury General is also aiming to compliment other stores in the community that has been undergoing a business renaissance in recent years.
Ready to go
Winter hours are tentatively set at 11 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week. The owners plan to hire at least one employee to help staff the store.
In spite of the long hours being put in to get Roxbury General ready, Doug and Robin are eager to get the finishing details in place and begin their new journey.
“The sign is going up next week and then we’ll open. We love the space and we’re very happy to be here,” Doug stated.
For additional information, please visit roxburygeneral.com or call 607 326-6118.