Lane Shull and her husband, Zach, hope their new store with its emphasis on old-time quality will give I-90 motorists another reason to stop in Piedmont.
Willow General Store, featuring tried-and-true, quality merchandise meant to be purchased once and used for a lifetime, opened June 17 at 110 Main St. in the quiet Meade County community named for the word meaning foothills, appropriate with the pines and spruce of the Black Hills looming nearby.
“This whole area of Main Street Piedmont has buildings that were built around the same time, so it’s a really quaint street, but nobody really knows that because people drive by at 75 mph and really have no reason to slip into Piedmont,” Lane said.
Those who do stop at the Willow General Store will find new merchandise, what Shull describes as things “simple in nature and built to last forever.”
“In a throwaway world, there’s a lot of peace in simplicity. That’s what we kind of try to portray here at the store,” she said.
Among the items offered are oiled canvas backpacks, handstitched leather sports balls, organic linen bedding, towels and aprons, high-quality brushes from brooms to nail brushes and garden tools made by a blacksmith in Bozeman, Mont.
“You can’t hurt them,” Shull said of the implements. “You’re going to be able to use them your entire life and hand them down to your kids and grandkids.”
Shull also offers antiques on consignment and furniture she has restored, but the vast majority of the inventory is new.
Willow General Store is settled in a frame building dating back to the late 1800s, Lane believes. The building has served many purposes over the years and in spite of standing vacant for almost three decades required very little major repair or remodeling.
The building had central heating and air-conditioning but needed a good cleaning and a coat of paint along with minor repairs on a front porch and exterior siding.
The old place seemed ready to be brought back to life, Shull said.
“You could tell — and maybe this is a little bit weird — that the building was welcoming and really wanted to be made pretty again. It would creak at the right time and doors would swing open at the appropriate time. Not that I feel it was haunted or anything, it was just ready for a nice polishing,” she said.
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Lane and Zach both graduated in 2001 from Wall High School. Lane credits her upbringing on a ranch for her appreciation of quality.
“My dad, who has since passed away, didn’t have a lot, but he really appreciated well-made goods,” she said. “I got my love of old things from my grandmothers.”
One of her first summer jobs, working for a gift shop in Wall, planted the seed of a dream to one day have a shop of her own.
Piedmont, nestled into the north slope of the Black Hills between Rapid City and Sturgis, beckoned with its small-town charm.
“We thought there’s a lot of potential. Let’s open our business in one of these beautiful buildings and give it a go,” she said.
Their business includes a garden area for small family or group gatherings, such as birthday parties and wedding showers. They sell Silver Lining Ice Cream from Rapid City, which has proven to be popular with local residents.
The general store’s plain appearance inside and out is by design. Most of the items offered are in neutral colors, allowing customers to add seasonal accents on their own.
Favorite sayings from her father’s journal also adorn the store.
“A lot of the visions I had for this kind of store were able to happen because we just said, let it work itself out,” Shull said. “And if we do hit a roadblock, it’s not meant to be or we’ll find a way around it.”
Shull hopes their business will spur others to open on Piedmont’s Main Street, which is more inviting to commerce after a reconstruction completed earlier this year with repaving, sidewalks and parking spaces.
“Our challenge is helping to make that happen,” she said.
Willow General Store is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. A grand opening is slated for Sept. 10.