EAST DOVER -- Valerie Russell and Rick Singer are not only partners in business, but in life too.
Together, they bought the East Dover General Store and have begun to establish a rapport with its old customers.
"It's only been just over a week but people are coming in to check it out," Singer told the Reformer during an interview last month. "A lot of our locals are starting to come in. We hope that when they see the quality of the food and service, they'll start coming in more often."
With the store back and running, customers already started peeking their heads in to see what's on the shelves and what the new owners are like.
"It's great to have it here," said one customer. "It's great to have it back."
Russell and Singer bought the store from Amiee Pritcher and John Sprung about a month after Singer retired on May 10.
"It was about a month of retirement then back into the frying pan," said Singer.
The previous owners had bought the store in April 2012, but closed it during the past winter. They bought the General Store along with the Post Office that shares the same building as the store, as well as the East Dover Village Scale House.
Pritcher and Sprung are still committed to revitalizing parts of East Dover and found themselves to be too busy to run the General Store. They have taken on several projects that include fixing up parts of the roadway that the General Store and Post Office is on.
Russell has been in the food service industry for over 25 years. She is a bartender in Brattleboro and has worked as a chef in restaurants. Russell also has experience in catering.
In her time off, she quilts. Some of her homemade blankets and bags are on sale in the store. The couple plans to offer more of these products in the future.
Singer has been a saxophone player in a band since 1979. His band, called High Times, still plays out quite regularly.
Singer told the Reformer that putting out a good product then getting the word out were among the challenges he saw for the purchase of the General Store.
"We have a little bit of everything here," he said.
The menu includes southwestern chicken wraps, burritos, tuna melts, turkey Reuben, which are specialties that the couple hopes will catch on with their customers. They also are open to suggestions for orders that go beyond the menu.
"If we have the ingredients, we'll make you what you want," Singer said.
There is a large cooler space called the "Beer Cave." The store has a variety of wines.
Russell said Vermont artists or manufacturers who are interested in putting their products on the shelves of the East Dover General Store can come and speak to her and Singer about it. They want to have a part of the store dedicated to things made in Vermont.
An East Dover General Store Facebook page is already set up and has acquired a few likes. On the page, Russell plans to write the weekly specials and mention other offers that the store may have.
Russell said business has been steady since its opening. She and Singer are going to try to make the store a gathering place for people to have fun while they shop.
"It's up and running. It's amazing the amount of hours you need to make yourself available to get everyone something when they need it," Singer said. "The goal is actually to make a profit and serve the community."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.