Demand and demand: Customers to have a say in stores inventory
By Eric Blaisdell
STAFF WRITER | June 24,2013
NORTHFIELD — The Falls General Store in Northfield will be a place created, in part, by the people.
The store, which is under renovation, was purchased by Norma Rooney and her business partner in 2010. Rooney has been living part-time on Cox Brook Road for 16 years and said she would drive by the store all the time and imagine what it could be. She said she wanted to have a place where people can come and have community, be able to go in and have a cup of coffee or a bagel and sit down and talk with their neighbors.
After Rooney bought the building, which was constructed in 1892, she found out it needed serious structural repairs as it was caving in on itself. The first phase of the renovations involved shoring up the structural integrity with repairs such as putting in steel beams in the attic and adding more support columns. All of the plumbing, septic and electrical work had to be replaced as well.
“Basically, we rebuilt the building without taking it down,” she said.
Rooney said had the building fallen in on itself or been demolished out of fear of caving in, it would have been very sad for the community. “It just seems like every town needs a general store,” she said.
According to the Northfield Historical Society, the building had been a post office and country store that delivered grain and its ownership has changed hands many times since then.
Rooney said the goal is to make the store looks as close to what it looked like back in the 1800s.
“We did as best as we could to maintain the look and feel of the building, but making it a little bit more sustainable by using materials that would not deteriorate as quickly as clapboard and wood,” Rooney said.
The outside of the store has been replaced by composite materials and concrete to help keep the building as maintenance-free as possible, as well as energy efficient. The inside of the store will also be energy efficient with LED lighting and automatic toilets and sinks in the bathrooms.
Rooney said construction should be completed by August and she hopes to have the store open this fall. The store will offer catering services, a bakery, and hot food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we well as a yoga studio upstairs as Rooney said she is a certified yoga instructor.
Some of the other services were ideas that came straight from the public.
Rooney said when they started in on the renovations, a sign was put on the outside of the building asking residents what they wanted the store to offer and to email their suggestions. Based on those submissions, Rooney said the store will offer an espresso bar, a juice bar and other “greener” options.
“People were asking for organic foods and fresh fruits and produce. They were asking for creemees and chocolate. All these little things we tried to incorporate into our original plan,” she said, adding all of the services won’t be available immediately, but will be gradually worked into the store.
Rooney said the public’s response to the renovations has been “tremendous.” She said people are constantly asking when the store is going to open and thanking her for investing in the store and, in turn, the town.
“The whole town is excited,” she said.