Written by Valerie DeBenedette
The Tilly Foster General Store in Southeast is now open and will hold a grand opening this Saturday and Sunday with cookies and coffee.
The store is located at 12 Old Route 6, in a building that had been the Old Route Six Pub for many years. Before that the building was a gas station and general store serving the needs of the miners who worked the Tilly Foster mine.
Tilly Foster General Store will operate just like an old-fashioned general store, selling a bit of everything, said owner and manager Lisa Aurello. It will be offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate, muffins, brownies, and eventually pre-made sandwiches, among other foods, as well as coffee beans, tea products, penny candy and preserves. The store will also sell antiques, folk art, apothecary items such as soaps and lotions, pet accessories, toys, scarves, candles and gifts.
"Since there was a general store back when the miners lived in the Tilly Foster hamlet, we thought there should be one again," Aurello said.
The store is not associated with Tilly Foster Farm, which is located on Route 312. Because Tilly Foster General Store is across the street from one of the entrances to the Putnam County Trailway, it stocks cold drinks and small bike repair kits.
Instead of beers, the antique bar now carries jars of taffy, licorice, along with stick candy and old-fashioned brands like Teaberry and Fruit Stripe gums. Another part of the store displays candles, scarves and gifts, and a line of preserves called Bathtub Gin that can be used like regular jam or can serve as the ingredients for cocktails. The walls carry some historic photos of the store when it was a gas station and of the Tilly Foster mine.
The shop is selling handcrafts including handmade wooden toys. Aurello hopes to stock more items made by local craftspeople.
Aurello and her husband Dean Abatemarco, who also serves as her partner, bought the building in 2004. They had purchased the house next door a few years earlier and discovered the night they moved in that their neighbor was a bar that catered to bikers.
"The building was in very bad condition," Aurello said. The couple renovated and refurbished the bar into a store, which took several years. "We did everything wrong," she said with a laugh. But the hard work shows and it is a nice retail space with windows facing out onto the Middle Branch Reservoir.
The store is located where the historic hamlet of Tilly Foster had been. The buildings that had been the post office and a one-room schoolhouse are now the Morning Star Trading Company and Putnam Engineering, respectively, Aurello said. Behind the store, Abatemarco has found the foundations of a building, she said, which may have been the site for St. Paul's Chapel, a mission church of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Brewster.
Store hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. The phone number for the store is 845-278-2406.