If you never had the pleasure of visiting the Unadilla Store, let me tell you what you missed.
When you walked in the door, you immediately walked back in time about 60 years. Maybe more. The floors were wooden and well-worn, and they creaked when you walked on them. The most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard.
Just inside the door was a bulletin board that pretty much anybody could post things on. There were notices for garage sales, guys selling snowmobiles, people looking for lost dogs – anything and everything.
Directly in front of you, inside a huge glass case, was a stuffed deer. Not a deer head – a full deer. A full, stuffed deer. Coolest thing you’ve ever seen.
Just past the deer were shelves and shelves of whatever you might need to make it through the day – bread and canned corn and tinfoil and peanut butter and anything else you can name. You needed it, they had it.
The left side of the store was the best side of the store. This was the part of the Unadilla Store that hadn’t changed one bit in 60 years, and will probably be remembered for 60 more. There was an ice cream counter, of course, and I don’t know where they got their ice cream from, but it was heavenly.
In front of the ice cream counter were a few tables that had checkerboards and chessboards on them, where the locals would while away the hours gossiping and arguing and laughing, all while playing their favorite board game. They also had some books and DVDs for sale, and I’m pretty sure you could still rent a VHS movie there.
And now, it’s gone. All of it. The stuffed deer and the bulletin board and the shelves full of bread and the ice cream counter and the checkerboards. Gone. All of it.
A massive fire swept through tiny Unadilla on Jan. 27, destroying the Unadilla Store and everything in it. And now, all we’re left with are memories and sadness.
This loss hit my family hard, because the Unadilla Store was a regular part of our lives. We live in Gregory and spend a lot of time in Ann Arbor, which means our travels take us through the winding roads of downtown Unadilla pretty much every day.
We’d pass by the store every time I took my daughters to and from gymnastics practice, and more often than not, we’d find a reason to stop. Maybe to buy a bottle of pop. Maybe to pick up a gallon of milk. Maybe to get us each an ice cream cone. There were few things in this world my daughter Lottie loved more than an ice cream cone from the Unadilla Store.
But now, it’s all gone.
When news of the fire started to spread on Facebook, I started seeing all sorts of comments from people who were feeling the same sadness I was feeling. Lots of folks who were just as attached to that store as I was – people who vacationed in the area; people who camped or canoed nearby; people who drove by every day like I did.
The Unadilla Store was just a store, but no – it was more than just a store. It was a cool store. It was a unique store.
It was our store.
My heart goes out to the family that owned the store, and to the people whose lives are affected a whole lot more than mine. We loved your little store, and we all share in your sadness and loss.
And damn, what I wouldn’t give for just one more of those ice cream cones.