ELLICOTTVILLE — “Quality goods, fair prices and old-fashioned service.” Although Ellicottville Country Store & Antiques opened just a few months ago, the store’s stated motto reflects owners Laura and Tom McLeod’s goal of staying true to their customers.
WELCOME TO HISTORIC ASHFORD JUNCTION — “Lucky,” a wooden horse made by Laura McLeod’s father, welcomes customers to Ellicottville Country Store & Antiques and invites children to go for a ride. Photos by Jessie Owen.
While the building is new to the McLeods, it is rich in local history. Originally build in 1870 as a dry goods store, the facade on the corner of routes 240 and 242 has seen the historic Ashford Junction grow and change with the times.
Laura McLeod described her first view of the building’s interior as “falling in love.” She and her husband had been looking around the area for a business to open, but when they toured what used to be “The Store” on the Ellicottville and Ashford line, they knew they had found the one for them. “When I walked in, I just fell in love with it,” McLeod said. “There is a special feeling here, like stepping back in time.”
The McLeods purchased the store in May and quickly got to work on the building. A soft opening was held in June, with the new Ellicottville Country Store & Antiques’ grand opening in July.
“It’s really a three-in-one store,” McLeod said, as she climbed the stairs to the wide-open top floor, which houses a full antique shop. Customers can browse the downstairs general store, eat breakfast and lunch in the diner or check out the many antiques for sale upstairs.
TREASURES — Twelve antique dealers rent booth space to display their wares upstairs in the store.
Twelve dealers rent booth space in the business’s mini antique mall. “These are experienced, professional dealers,” McLeod said. “This is the real thing. There are absolute treasures here.”
SWEET TOOTH — Penny and bulk candies line the front counter and are sprinkled throughout the store.
Customers are invited to browse the many handmade items, such as balsam fir-filled pillows, hand-poured soaps and candles and place mats, that grace the shop’s main floor. An extensive array of bulk candies, jams, jellies, honey, maple syrups, soup mixes, teas, old-fashioned glass-bottled sodas and other edible goodies are on hand to tempt even the choosiest taste buds. “I really like to promote American-made items as much as possible,” McLeod said.
TAKE A LOOK AROUND — Customers browsing the mini antique mall upstairs can look down into the main general store.
While she obtains some of her store’s inventory from wholesale dealers, McLeod purchases many other items from individuals in the local area. “I have met the people who make my soaps and candles, and the Amish family who makes our bird feeders,” she said. The store’s wide variety of gift items include cook books, kitchen ware, wind chimes, tea pots and more.
Cuba Cheese, “one of the hottest-selling items,” according to McLeod, chills in a cooler next to the front counter, and chocolates and fudge are also available on the weekends. Kids can check out toys, novelty candies and ice cream bars, while their parents browse the hundreds of items in the store.
The McLeods are working on getting their liquor license and said they plan to sell beer and lottery tickets soon. “New stock is coming in, all the time,” Laura McLeod said. “There is always something new.”
Old, enlarged photos hanging on the store’s walls invite customers to take a trip down memory lane.
These moments in time show the store as it used to look, when Ashford Junction bustled with businesses and welcomed the train every day.
MAIL CALL — The store’s original post office wall is still located inside Ellicottville Country Store & Antiques.
“A lot of people come through that remember it,” McLeod said. “Ashford Junction was the place to be.” Many of the building’s original furnishings, like an old post office wall and a refurbished jewelry display case, are put to use inside the store.
HAVE A BITE — The diner opened three weeks ago and serves breakfast and lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The brand-new diner, accessible directly from the store, opened three weeks ago. Early birds can choose from the breakfast menu, starting at 7 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but the diner stays open through lunch on those days, as well, until 2 p.m. “Chef Al” and two waitresses keep customers’ well-fed.
“Chef Al does a special every weekend,” McLeod said, “and his omelets are to die for. I’m told he makes the best hash browns in the area.”
McLeod, who works half of the week at the Boston Free Library, said that, while it can be intimidating to open a new business, “It’s not so different from running a library. I’ve spent 20 years doing collection development. It’s all about the people; knowing who your customers are.”
SHOP ‘TILL YOU DROP — Pictured are many of the homemade offerings available at the Ashford Junction shop.
While she gave credit to her husband for being the “driving force” behind the business, McLeod said that “the locals have been wonderful. We have a lot of people returning. This is such a special place.”
Future plans for the business include an expanded gift shop, which McLeod said she hopes to have open by Christmas. The store holds sales on many major holidays, and will feature a 20 percent off antiques costing $20 or more sale on Columbus Day.
The store is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. The diner serves breakfast and lunch on the weekends and is open from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Friday – Sunday.
Ellicottville Country Store & Antiques is located at 5364 Route 242 East, on the corner of Route 240, in Ellicottville. For more information, call the store, at 699-6100.