STAMFORD, Conn. – Rob Williamson is turning back the clock in North Stamford. In the first six months since opening Uncle’s General Store at 2627 High Ridge Road, his unique retail space has been well-received by residents of Stamford, Pound Ridge, Bedford, New Canaan and more.
“The funny part is the younger generation doesn’t know what a general store is,’’ Williamson said. “I have a picture of a tractor that I used for a logo. I had a guy come in and asked if we sold a tractor. Most of the people are all for us, they know what we are and what we’re trying to do.”
Williamson, who also owns Uncle’s Deli in Darien, felt the section of North Stamford needed a convenient outlet for residents who did not want to travel to chain markets a few miles away.
The store offers a full line of groceries, fresh breads, coffee, paper goods, beer, Lotto tickets and penny candy. “I grew up near a store in Massachusetts where you could get everything from fish hooks to bacon,’’ Williamson said. “We’re not quite that diverse, but we’re pretty close.”
Liquor stores under several different owners served the community before Williamson started his store in June. He had his eye on the property for a while, and friends had told him he should run a general store. He also considered a deli, but the town’s health department said Williamson would have to pay for a costly septic system overhaul.
“I had to convince my landlord that a general store could be a win-win,’’ Williamson said. “There were a lot of issues that I had to deal with from the health department. But the people like it.”
Customers, about 30 percent of whom are from New York, also enjoy the atmosphere Williamson created. He made some renovations, the most important of which was bringing in counters and lighting that give an old-time feel to the store. “I wanted to search for some old counters,’’ Williamson said. “I got some from Sioux City, Iowa, they must be from the 1870s. I have an old display case from the 1800s. It has an antique feel.”
Williamson has owned delis in Stamford, Old Greenwich and New Canaan, and the Darien deli has been voted Best of the Gold Coast in Fairfield County for five straight years.
Williamson will divide time between his businesses in Stamford and Darien, but is enjoying the experience with the general store near his Stamford home.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 21 years old,’’ Williamson said. “My favorite thing is to build them, start them up, get them going. I like setting up the place the way that I like it. I’m always looking to start a new business. I think this one is going to do very well here.”