By Liz Witbeck
Vischer Ferry General Store, owned and operated by Louise McManus and Anouk Booneman, features retail space as well as a café open for breakfast and lunch.
The store, at 357 Riverview Road, Rexford, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 22.
“People have been thrilled,” said McManus, who opened the store in December. “They want a place to eat and to walk to. Some people even come in twice a day.”
McManus worked at the bridal shop Lily Saratoga for 10 years and also worked as a jewelry designer before opening the business. She brings to Vischer Ferry General Store her knowledge of the retail industry and is responsible for purchasing items for that portion of the store.
“My inspiration is trying to carry unique things that nobody else carries,” said McManus. “I am very inspired by nature. I love the nature preserve that we have here. Many of our items are tied to nature in some way. We also have a lot of books, history related items, and local items.”
Some of McManus’ favorite items at the shop include the jewelry line by Alex Monroe. The line features nature-inspired pieces, such as rabbits and birds. Another favorite is Library of Flowers, a bath and body line featuring lotions, perfumes, soaps, candles, oils, bubble bath, shower gels, and more.
The store has its own line of Vischer Ferry General Store products created by a local family. It includes soaps, potpourri, dish liquid, and more. The products come in scents that the two business owners chose, including lavender and orange cinnamon.
Booneman is responsible for overseeing the café at the store. She has Dutch heritage and grew up in Africa. She later graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.
Booneman creates a variety of dishes for breakfast and lunch each day, inspired by dishes from around the world.
Breakfast items include crepes, Belgian waffles with strawberries and nutella, parfaits made with local Greek yogurt from Willow Marsh Farm in Ballston Spa, homemade granola and breakfast sandwiches. The café also serves a variety of pastries, including Dutch boterkoek, croissants, coffee cake, scones, cookies and more.
There is an assortment of coffee, espresso, and lattes to choose from. There is also cold-brewed iced tea and iced coffee. A variety of syrups can be added to a customer's beverage. Drinks can be flavored with lavender-honey, rosemary, mint, ginger and more to create an artisan beverage that isn't be found in many other cafes.
According to McManus, the lavender-honey cold-brewed coffee has been especially popular.
For lunch, the café offers soups, salads and sandwiches. The menu changes on a daily basis. Soups that have been available at the café have included chicken pot pie, Italian wedding, and mulligatawny. Salad varieties include quinoa and black bean, and lentil and kale. Sandwiches include turkey, apple and brie on a baguette; homemade hummus, egg salad and grilled cheese.
"The atmosphere of the store makes us different," said McManus. "Instead of a bunch of small tables, we bought a big communal table that sits 10 people. We hoped that people would come and strike up a conversation with other people at the store."
An unexpected aspect, said McManus, is the number of international customers who come into the store. "I would say half of our customers are from foreign countries," she noted.
The building itself was built in the 1780s. It was operated as a general store until the 1950s, passed along through different owners. The building was remodeled and eventually used as a bicycle shop, real estate office and a tack shop. In September 2013, a fire damaged the building. McManus, her husband, and some others in Vischer Ferry purchased the property. They started a company called Restore the Store LLC in order to renovate and protect the building. Remodeling took two years.
The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, visit vischerferrygeneralstore.com or call 579 – 0195.