NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — Jane Beltz, owner/manager of the General Store in North Salem’s historic Union Hall (1848), had plans to hold a grand opening about eight months ago, but life went another way.
First, she needed three surgical procedures. Then she suffered a fractured shinbone while horseback riding. “The doctor told me not to ride, but I didn’t listen,” Beltz said.
The General Store finally opened in October and offers an eclectic assortment of specialty foods, textile products, books, crafts and artisanal sundries. Beltz is still expanding the stock, too.
She came to North Salem by way of Montauk, where she taught yoga and ran a restaurant; New York City, where she was an actress; California, where she studied theater arts; Indiana, where she studied ballet; and Washington, D.C., where she grew up.
“I’ve never been in retail before,” she said, “but I want the General Store to be a welcoming, convenient place for residents to shop, browse and stay.”
Keeping the character of the building was important to Beltz.
“We tried to maintain the character by preserving as much of the original millwork and architectural detailing as we could. And we tried to hold true to the feeling of an old general store, with apothecary products and dry goods."
“I got the idea originally because I was tired of bad delis. I wanted to serve really good coffee and good bread from the city, and my vision grew from there.”
She is awaiting a permit to sell hot coffee, but in the meantime is giving it away. “I get daily bread deliveries from Balthazar, Tom Cat and Amy’s Bread in the city, and fabulous croissants from Ceci Cela, the French Bakery in Soho.”
Other specialty products include the French soap Savon de Marseilles, men’s toiletries from London’s DR Harris, Brun de Vian-Tiran natural fiber scarves from the south of France, La Pasta di Aldo from Italy’s Abruzzo district, Italy’s Benedetto Cavalieri Artisanal Pasta, Creminelli handmade salami from the West Coast, Ronnybrook dairy products from the Hudson Valley, and Red Jacket Apple Cider from the Finger Lakes.
Beltz plans to hold tastings, book signings, artists’ talks and more. The store’s community gathering component kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. with a concert by North Salem’s Eric Pooley and his Goat Rodeo Band. Wine and cheese will be served.
The General Store at Union Hall is located at 2 Keeler Lane, just north of the Balanced Rock. The store is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.