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Pickens General Store slated for Labor Day grand re-opening

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HEUVELTON — With renovations of the Pickens General Store scheduled to be completed by the end of the week, the project looks surprisingly unfinished.

Because of a problem acquiring building supplies, the grand reopening has been pushed back to Labor Day, said Betsy Hebert, manager of the store’s online shop.

But the renovation of the ground-floor facility, from which the store operates at 83 State St., is only the tip of a major plan to restore the entire building to its original condition in the 1880s.

The completed building would see a new set of stairs and an elevator added on the back, a necessary addition to provide access to the opera house on the third floor.

Currently, the third floor is abandoned and the remnants of a theatrical past are difficult to discern under layers of peeling wallpaper and rippling hardwood floors.

Renovations were “supposed to start last fall,” Ms. Hebert said, but the Heuvelton Historical Association, the organization responsible for the project, was unable to establish a line of credit.

“We have great grant writers,” Ms. Hebert said of the ongoing effort to secure funding for the project.

However, the association has so far garnered only reimbursement grants, meaning someone has to foot the bill upfront.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re hanging by red tape,” she said.

She added the association hopes construction on the new stairs and elevator that was supposed to begin last year will begin this month.

Already on retainer for the project is Continental Construction, a group the store has done business with in the past.

“I really do think (construction) will begin by late August,” Ms. Hebert said. “It’s just a matter of a bank saying, ‘Yeah, OK.’”

Even if the addition is pushed back further, store visitors will be treated to a new old-fashioned wing featuring a variety of local goods, including many Amish wares, opening Labor Day.

The store is also branching out into new terrain as it begins adding locally produced art to its shelves.

The business is operating out of only half of the old store because renovations are under way.

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