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Wednesday, May 23 News

Sherman’s Old Store celebrating 20th anniversary

History meets modern times with ease at the the Old Store Gift Shop & Museum in Sherman.

When a customer arrives at the shop, the rich history of the building unfolds, starting on the antique porch and continuing inside, where patrons meet friendly volunteers ready to offer shopping assistance, directions or other information, and view photographs and memorabilia celebrating the building’s storied past.

Colorful spring-inspired tablecloths and refurbished cabinets and shelves showcase the array of products for sale.

The gift shop and museum, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is owned and operated by the Sherman Historical Society.

Two special events — one for members and one for the public — will take place in August to mark the milestone.

“It’s a tremendous asset,” said SHS President Sue Moga of the shop’s place in the community.

She said the shop showcases Sherman’s history, while offering customers quality products, all while being a self-sufficient part of the SHS.

Moira Kelly, who is co-manager of the shop with Lisa Cilio, said the historical society believes the store is the oldest continuously running mercantile store in the state.

The building has served as home to numerous businesses — including a general store, the town’s IGA and a hardware store — since the building was constructed circa 1810.

The first store at the Sherman Center site is listed in the Sherman land records as a mercantile belonging to David Northrop Jr. in 1829. William B. Hawley then operated a general store at the site, where patrons could purchase fabric, buggy bolts and more, according to old newspaper clippings.

The business was known as The Store until it became an IGA, operating from about 1937 through 1976.

In 1998, the property and building were put on the market and the Sherman Historical Society stepped up and raised funds to buy the building outright.

The early years of the gift shop featured the sale of consigned antiques and small gifts, and eventually grew to also include handcrafted items from local artisans. By 2003, however, a new wave of volunteers emerged and the shop began to redefine itself as more of a gift shop, catering to shoppers seeking hostess, birthday, anniversary, baby and Christmas gifts and more.

Wooden cutting boards, picnic accessories, soaps and lotions, candles, tableware, baby items, children’s toys, men’s personal items and ladies’ scarves, handbags, jewelry and Sherman T-shirts, local books, Sherman ornaments and more are among the gifts sold at the shop.

“If we get customers to walk through the door once, they’ll walk through it again,” Cilio said.

The shop is open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. — as well as when the flag is flying out front — from April through Christmas Eve.

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Cilio and Kelly said the team of buyers, of which they are a part, are “always looking for new vendors” to keep the inventory fresh and modern while meeting customers’ needs.

Once in a while, a product will go so quickly, staff must order more to meet customer demand.

“And there’s always something new,” Cilio said.

“You don’t see things here that you’ll find in the mall,” Kelly said, noting some of the items are products made in the USA.

“As a shopper, I love finding something that’s different and not outrageously priced,” Moga said.

Local Realtor Kathy Fazzone is a faithful customer who praised the shop’s staff, prices and variety of goods.

“I always find what I need,” she said. “It’s not like going into a big store. … You’re not overwhelmed.”

Fazzone said she always points out the Old Store when driving around town with prospective new residents, and often purchases Sherman books and other local products for care packages.

The holiday season is one of the shop’s most popular times. The volunteers described how the building’s atmosphere and lighting complement the holiday cheer expressed in seasonal décor and products.

The shop draws customers from all over the region, as well as Westchester County, N.Y. Over time, the staff builds relationships with repeat customers.

“People bring their house guests,” Kelly said. “The first thing people say is, we have to go to the Old Store.”

In addition to the gift store, the building houses a museum that celebrates its history. It features a permanent exhibit of photographs, a tobacco exhibit, the original butcher shop (with no running water), and original store pieces, many of which were uncovered in the attic when the IGA moved out.

The Old Store Gift Shop & Museum is at 3 Route 37 in Sherman Center. For information, call 860-350-3475 or visit http://bit.ly/2HK56PB

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