New Salem General Store getting new owners

  • Rick Oliver has owned the New Salem General Store since January of 1996. Katlin Charette makes sandwiches at the deli behind him. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Co-owner Rick Oliver stocks shelves as the New Salem General Store. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • The New Salem General Store is changing hands. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/28/2020 12:25:21 PM
Modified: 6/28/2020 12:25:19 PM

NEW SALEM – It’s the end of one era and the start of another at the New Salem General Store, which is set to have new owners on Monday.

Natalie and Jeffrey Reynolds are slated to take over for from Rick and Lori Oliver, who about a quarter-century ago resurrected a run-down building at 410 Daniel Shays Highway and changed the name. The Olivers put the store and its land on the market in the fall of 2017.

“After operating the store for more than 24 years, it’s now time for us to say good-bye,” the store posted on its Facebook page on June 23. The announcement is also on the store’s website. “It was a tough decision, but we are happy to know that Natalie and Jeff fully intend to continue to be a large part of the community as we have for all these years. We are both looking forward to seeing how they put their mark on the New Salem General Store!”

Rick told the Greenfield Recorder he does not know what his immediate plans are.

Natalie, a New Salem native, said she and her husband, who hails from Townsend, have a hospitality background, having run a bed-and-breakfast in Bar Harbor, Maine, and a bakery and coffee shop in Orange. While they are crafting their own logo for the store, they are keeping the name and Natalie said they want to maintain the nostalgic, mom-and-pop feel.

“We want to take what Rick has done and throw our footprint on it,” she said this week. “What’s so great about New Salem is it’s kind of a place where time stands still.”

Natalie said she and her husband reached out to the Olivers in the fall, but plans got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were supposed to be in here months ago, but the coronavirus put a damper on it,” she said. “The town’s been super excited, and that’s what we want.”

Natalie said she and Jeffrey will run the store with help from their 13-year-old son, Jack.

The store’s inventory includes home-cooked breakfasts, a full-service deli, baked goods, Dean’s Beans coffee, beer and wine. There is also lottery, an ATM, a post office, a copy machine and a fax machine. It is open seven days a week. Customers who buy items from the bakery section likely won’t notice a difference – the recipes are Natalie’s. She sold baked goods at the store some years ago and Rick kept using the recipes.

The Olivers’ future is up in the air right now. Rick said they had planned to go to Europe for two weeks in August, but that vacation looks like it will be canceled due to the pandemic. A Seattle native, Rick said he might take a motorcycle trip to Washington state, where much of his family lives. Lori grew up in Athol.

Rick said cleaning out his office was bittersweet – he is sad to go, but excited to start a new chapter.

“It’s like I was getting fired from the corporate world, walking out with my box full of pictures and things,” he said. “(Natalie and Jeff) are really good people and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with this place.”

Rick said the Reynolds family is taking over a hectic business, as sales are up 25 percent since the pandemic started. He said the store has stayed busy because it sells alcohol, take-out food and has an ATM and a post office.

“I think a lot of people are trying to avoid the big stores, and so they’re going to the little stores,” he said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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