The Vischer Ferry General Store - Where History Meets Present Day and Friends and Neighbors Come Together

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ok.......one more new post before the holidays.  As much as I love blogging, there's something I love even more and that's spending time with my family and my grandchildren.  This morning my out-of-town family arrived for Christmas - complete with our two granddaughters, so I plan to be preoccupied for a time savoring each & every sweet moment with them.  While they are nestled all safe in their beds though, I have a few moments to share a very special new friend in the neighborhood - the Vischer Ferry General Store!  I know when you see the photos, you'll want to make a trip to welcome them and do a little holiday shopping, followed by a warm beverage and some delicious homemade baked goods.  It's just what the doctor ordered to help you catch your breathe during the holiday rush.




Located at 357 Riverview Road in Rexford, NY, there are so many things I love about the Vischer Ferry General Store, especially its historical significance to our community.  Their website gives a wonderful historical accounting of both its origin and the community of Vischer Ferry, (link will be included later) but I'll try to give you a short synopsis.  The original general store was built by Benjamin Mix in 1787.  The store passed through several owners in the 1800's and for a time even operated as a post office.  The hamlet of Vischer Ferry was growing thanks to the construction of the Erie Canal, and during the 19th century the area was thriving.  In 1930 a garage was added to the property when it was owned by Ordie Shippee.  It again changed hands and was eventually owned by Nels Olsen who operated it as the Vischer Ferry General Store in 1953.  He was the last to run it as a general store, but later it became a bike shop, a realty shop and later a tack shop.  After the building was damaged in a fire in 2013, it was purchased by a group of neighbors eager to restore it to it's natural glory.  Joanne & Paul Coons. Karan & George Donohue, and Louise and Tom McManus own the current property.   The renovation was led by Paul who took great care to make sure the renovations were historically accurate while utilizing modern, energy efficient technology.  What resulted is a beautiful structure that has the charm of the 1800's but shines like grandmas's silver!  From the moment you step inside, it's almost impossible to know where to look first.  From the ten foot high beadboard ceilings to the light fixtures, the revival of this historic structure is nothing short of a masterpiece.






When I heard about the impending opening of the store, I contacted Louise to ask if I might feature the store in the blog.  Preparations for opening continued right up to the last minute, so I wasn't able to visit prior to its opening last weekend, but on Thursday John and I took a chance and dropped in hoping to at least get a glimpse and check out the baked goods.  What I first noticed about the Vischer Ferry General Store is that the hospitality is as welcoming as the atmosphere!  Both Louise and Anouk greeted us warmly, as they did each and every customer that entered.  Anouk admitted she'd been reading (stalking as she said) my blog which of course made me love her instantly!

 Louise manages the retail aspects of the store and Anouk manages the culinary end of things.  Louise and Anouk are neighbors and best friends and obviously a match made in heaven.  Louise explained that their intent for the store is for it to be a place where people in the community come together to relax, have a cup of coffee or tea, flip through a magazine or catch up with a neighbor.  It is not about being a neighborhood deli, in fact, their menu will be limited to baked goods, a daily soup, a daily sandwich or two and beverages.


 This particular day Anouk told us about her sandwich of the day - an egg panini which was served with cheddar cheese and dijon mayonnaise and optional bacon and roasted tomato.  Although we hadn't planned on lunch, we quickly decided, "why not"?   We decided to share a sandwich and a bowl of the soup of the day, Tomato Cheddar.  The cooler is stocked with a wide variety of specialty water, soda and juice in addition to coffee, latte and tea.  We opted for root beer, one of John's favorites.  Anouk's egg paninni was to die for.  I normally don't love paninni's because they're often too tough and hard to chew, but this one was just grilled enough but still tender and the perfect texture for the delicate egg souffle inside.  And what a genius idea to use dijon mayonnaise -- OMG amaaazing!  The soup had a rich tomato flavor with a hint of cheddar and that too was quite delicious.  Occasionally being 'press' (even with my tiny blog) results in special treatment and today that special treatment involved a plateful of baked samples.....which if you know my husband, was like winning the lottery.  Anouk's baked goods were out of this world - every one of them.  I ate a 1/4 of one cookie and a bite of another and John enjoyed the entire plate...and I mean - enjoyed!

In addition to the wonderful food, the store offers a wide array of unique and fun gifts for everyone of any age.  This is where Louise's talent comes in!  I knew immediately that I was going to love this shop because one of the first things I saw upon entering was a selection of merchandise from Beekman 1802.....including autographed copies of the premier edition of their new magazine, Beekman Almanac.    From gourmet food items, to fair trade clothing items, to children's books and toys, stationery and jewelry, the General Store has it all.  Here's a peek of some of the great selection of merchandise awaiting you.....









The birdhouses above were built by the carpenter who worked on the General Store. He built the beautiful long table and counter, and built these bird houses with reclaimed wood from the original structure!  What a great gift for history buffs, especially natives to the area!





Louise found the notepads above in her home, which is next door to the General Store and decided to recreate them as notepads as a fun reminder of the store's origins.  The pads are printed exactly as they were back when Ordie Shippee ran the store in the 1930's.  You'll also find a large array of books featuring local history as well as merchandise made by local aritisans.  Mustard Seed, a mother/daughter company that produces natural products using essential oil, has created two signature scents for the Vischer Ferry General Store for their dish soap, hand soap and hand lotion - a winter and a summer scent.   This is just a tiny example of what you can find when you visit......there is so much to see and so much you'll want to buy.  I promise anything you buy will be unique and appreciated by anyone on your gift list.  What is so nice is that Louise has worked hard to incorporate local history, local craftsmen and the feel of an old general store into a new and modern shop.  It's the perfect mix of old and new.

Take time out of your busy holiday schedule to stop in and say hi to some of the nicest shopkeepers you'll meet.  Try some of Anouk's delicious treats and sit a spell and enjoy the old time feel of a local gathering spot.  I know that before long the Vischer Ferry General Store will be just that - a place for locals and visitors to sit a spell and enjoy the company of friends, old and new in a piece of Clifton Park's history born again.  What a beautiful way to restore and honor this magnificent piece of history.  Thank you to all those who poured so much love into this project!
To read more about the Vischer Ferry General Store, check out their website where you can read more about the history of Vischer Ferry (thank you John Scherer), Louise & Anouk, and more about the products they sell.  And don't forget to like and follow their Facebook page too!  Link below!


Thanks for reading and come back soon.  I'll be bringing back some of last year's holiday posts and might even find a minute to bring you a little peek of our holiday times here at Life As I See It.  

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