Saturday, October 13, 2012

That Shop on the Corner Over Time

Randy & Steve's cardboard sign near public parking.

The corner store has always been perfect for business.

This past Thursday afternoon, October 11, 2012, I watched a lively group of school children on a tour of Ellicott City Historic District walk in front of that shop on the corner, cross the street, then go up Church Road, past the now-interpretive Fire Station.  It took me some time to sort it out, but, you know, it’s the people…seeing these joyful kids…that link past to present, possibly more than what is built and sold in the stores. What items people shop for changes over time more than anything else.  Randy & Steve's NEW GENERAL STORE is  located at 8249 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD...the old Yates & Son's address.

Old and new combined.

Stores as PLACES are connective tissue, of course. Yates Market was a historic treasure, with its time span and family ownership.But most family-owned places ultimately move into the past through death, debt, or lack of interest.   To be honest, my heart is with the old store. I worked in the field of national historic preservation for 30 years in Washington, D.C. and learned to feel authenticity in my bones. You don't have to tell me--I just sense it. The New General Store building exterior and interior has a character of its own right now, and is certainly in the line-up of its care-takers over time...without the Yates family connection.

This, for starters…I’m a relative newcomer, having lived on Church Road, upper, lower, and upper again, for fewer than 20 years. Some of my friends have a 50+-year relationship with the historic Yates Market. Gone, but in the history books through documentation, and also inside the store and out into the garden, physically.  On to the present!

Before: Lots of stuff.

From Bursting with Stuff 
to Sleek and Contemporary

To my eye, the most stunning difference was the change in interior space when contrasted with Yates Market--especially near the end, with furniture and potato chips side by side.   

For all the fascinating items in the Yates space…and I always looked from floor to ceiling…the footage was diminished to such a degree that I thought the market was tiny.

Now, updated inside and out by former Good Life Market owners Randy Neely and Steve Archuleta, the store has a different look and feel. 

After:  No dark stain.  Spacious and well-defined. 

Randy and Steve showed me around--And I looked on my own! Fun! 


(left) RANDY explained it to me:  While preserving historic shelving, the tin ceiling and other interior features (especially a beautiful 1904 walk in cooler, its glass doors swung wide open now) they replaced the severely deteriorated historic wood floors and applied many coats of white paint, where needed.  NOW, the store space appears light and bright--twice as wide and twice as deep! You can feel a sense of vista, whereas in the old, dark space with so many items, you were surrounded and had no idea of the size of the interior.  Amazing what removal of objects can do for perception--as well as light paint.  

A few minutes later, c0-owner Steve appeared in his red sweater and began to show me what he feels are the most joyful aspects of the market.  His enthusiasm added another dimension to the conversation about herbs and other FUN, upbeat items displayed.  For example, the metal clip bugs--seen below--made me smile, even laugh!

Adorable metal bugs for sale!

In brief--and to their credit as designers--Randy and Steve have created a sleek, contemporary setting that invites the eye to investigate all of the food items, soaps, pottery, candles, jewelry, purses…on and on. I just kept photographing and talking. 

My colleague, Denee Barr, an amazing jazz vocalist, joined us--she spent some time setting up her camera and choosing some specific items to "sing to," and began recording. What we have here is a medley of songsto please the senses, just as the NEW GENERAL STORE pleases our senses and makes us want to return again and again to look around, talk to the owners, and leave with a wonderful new product.

Self-portrait c 2012 Denee Barr

Denee liked this box and the delicate flowers behind.

Brandie Jefferson’s September feature (Ellicott City Patch) on the store is excellent and, thus, very quotable:

Former Good Life Market owners Neely and Steve Archuleta opened the store on Sept. 29 in the space formerly occupied by Yates Market. Though there are hints of Yates – which had been in business for more than 125 years – the space is decidedly their own.
“Do you remember this?” Neely asked. He was standing in front of a wood-framed greenhouse that takes center stage in the shop. It was a 1904-era walk-in cooler, he said.
Yates Market owner Betty Jacobs kept sodas in the cooler, Neely said, but he and Archuleta have transformed it into an herb garden abloom with lavender and rosemary and other fragrant edibles.
“I said to Steve ‘are you sure we can grow herbs inside?’ But look,” Neely said, opening the glass door, “There they are.” 

Now, I am sharing some photographs  of the interior, including owners, Randy and Steve, behind the counter...But come in for yourself, and enjoy THE NEW GENERAL STORE...come soon, then come back often!

All of the items shown below are for sale in THE NEW GENERAL STORE.  See them today!

One last and important note.  When the DELI is in place, according to the owners and cited in Brandie
Jefferson's feature on the store, there will be a grand opening & reception. Denee and I hope to be there!

 Unless otherwide noted, blog content and photos:
 Kay Weeks. Song stylist is Denee Barr.  

OCTOBER 13, 2012


Denee Barr Art News and More said...

Glad to see Randy and Steve back in Ellicott City. I was actually a fan of their Good Life Store too and purchased gifts there. I look forward to their Grand Opening.

Straight Thumb Charley said...

Thank you so much, Kay. I've been away from town far too long, and have been so curious about The New General Store. What a wonderful introduction you have made!

Anonymous said...

I used to watch Yates Market from my house across the stree and up the rock hill...from Mrs. Yates and her flowers; Mr. Yates in his white apron and his smile. And I know Betty tried to keep the family business going but it was too much. So now we have a new adaptation...wonderful. The next time I am in EC will definitely visit. Glad Steve and his partner are back...they were missed too.

Sara Arditti said...

Great story, Kay! I walk past this store every day twice a day on my way to and from the parking lot, and it was so exciting to see the transformation and revitalization of such a prominent location from outdated and dusty to fresh and bright. I am particularly addicted to the yummy ice cream topping sauces Randy and Steve offer. Coconut and dark chocolate-oh yeah!

Anonymous said...

HI Kay:

Our house was once owned by a cousin to Baden Yates. Enjoyed the video.

Love, Nancy & Charlie

Anonymous said...

I think this is such happy news on many levels. I will definitely visit the store next time I am in EC. Thanks for letting me know.

Sally Bright
Cambridge, MD

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