Thursday, November 15, 2007

West Shokan's General Store

The West Shokan Curmudgeon reports that the West Shokan General Store will close. According to the Curmudgeon, the owner of the store, Ruth Marzulli, has:

"offered to compromise on the rent and to extend the initial rental agreement. The Mansfields feel that it’s impossible to make the store viable even if the rent is almost nothing. I’m sure there’s a compromise in all this, but it doesn’t seem that the parties will figure it out."

The Curmudgeon suggests that a group might open the store in Snyder's, a bar famous for appearing in the film Wendigo, which has apeared on the Independent Film Channel and elsewhere.

Babs and Phil Mansfield, who moved up from the city to run the store (Phil is a professional photographer as well as a retailer) have done a great job with the store. The food is very good and they sell alot of neat stuff like milk in the old fashioned glass bottles that is organic (bottled by a local farmer), organic eggs and world-class soups, pot pies etc. The store is much more crowded than it was when Weber owned it and much more crowded than when the Marzullis operated it themselves.

Ruth's late husband Jerry had purchased Weber's store and refurbished it about 5 or 6 years ago. Unfortunately, rumor has it that the price was somewhat too high to be justified by the volume. The economics of the area may be that commercial properties cannot command the prices that would seem appropriate elsewhere, such as New York, because of insufficient traffic. It is understandable that Ms. Marzulli does not wish to rent or sell at a loss, and it is also understandable that Mr. and Ms. Mansfield cannot operate at a loss to cover Ms. Marzulli's cash flow gap.

As the Curmudgeon points out, the store is a major asset to the hamlet of West Shokan. For those who do not drink (Snyder's is a commodious alternative hangout if you do drink)it is the only "third place" to meet others in West Shokan.

Ms. Marzulli would probably be wise to compromise on the rent, especially if the Curmudgeon's concern that the West Shokan post office might close if the store closes again is true. If the p.o. does close, Ms. Marzulli will lose that rent as well as the store's rent. If so, she will be holding an expensive property with no tenant and will have to carry the interest (or imputed interest) as well as pay the taxes and maintain the property without any revenue.

It would make more sense for Ms. Marzulli to cover her variable costs and at least part of her fixed costs by offering the Mansfields a lease at a market rate. By market rate I mean a rate that is limited to the store's net income less a reasonable estimate of profit and wages for the Mansfields. I sincerely doubt that another buyer will be able to generate more traffic than the Mansfields have. Commercial properties on Route 28 in neighboring Boiceville have been sitting empty for years.


paul said...

Thanks for the info, I had been wondering about the status of the store. Loved it when Ruth was there as well as the Mansfields. By the way how is their son?

Plochmann said...

Hello, Mitchell!

Thanks for the info about the store. It's unfortunate as we enjoy the thriving of local businesses. We're gradually learning more & more about your region after visiting Woodstock & Saugerties one month ago to catch Levon Helm's Ramble & sightsee. Please check out our blog. We took a number of photos & created the blog so fans of Bob Dylan, The Band & other related artists may also enjoy them. We update it frequently & really enjoy it. Take care.

Mike & Kim

FastFred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitchell Langbert said...

Dear Fast Fred. I will take some pics tomorrow and put them up. I'm not sure when you lived here but this is the history as I know it. A guy named Les Davis owned the store in the 1970s and when he passed away a guy named Weber ran it. I'm not sure of the dates. Also, there may have been someone in between. Then, Weber sold it to the Jerry and Ruth Marzulli about 5-7 years ago. There was originally a partner but Marzulli and he had a fight. Then, Marzulli closed the store, and I believe he passed away a year or two later. His widow, Ruth, now lives in Arizona but she still owns it. Ruth rented it to a couple named Phil and Babs Mansfield. They suffered a terrible tragedy because their lovely son, Killian, was afflicted with bone cancer and he died two years later. Before he died, two of the "local talent" in Woodstock, Todd Rundgren and John Sebastian, cut an album with him (I think one of his ambitions was to be a rock star). The album is available at: and is very much part of the history of the store and post office. Babs and Phil did a wonderful job running the store but couldn't agree to rental terms with Ruth Marzulli and so they left the store about 2 years ago. The store was empty for a while, and then another couple ran it. It turned out that this couple had embezzled $40,000 from a gas station in Shokan and used the money to open the store. They got caught. Remarkably, a very talented couple, Gary and Paula, now run the store. They come from Memphis and Gary is a professional chef who used to work at a major resort on Cape May in New Jersey. So things are going well for the little general store. As far as the post office, you might remember the post mistress Pat Conway. She retired about six or seven years ago and there has been a succession of post mistresses (no males, just females). Currently Susan is the post mistress and she is very nice. I see Pat around the neighborhood and she is doing just fine. I'll try to post some pictures of the store very soon. It is very pretty here now because of the beautiful snow cover. The sky is striking but it is c-o-l-d. Best wishes, Mitchell