A new shopping experience has recently opened in Jamestown, giving customers a wide variety of merchandise and, possibly more importantly, ice cream.
Around five years ago, Kirby and Debi Baumert purchased the 101 West Row Street building and got right to work. The store, which was originally built in 1903 and served its time as a hardware store until the 1980s, is the new home of the Mill and Row Emporium.
Debi said there was no definite plan in the beginning as to what the building would be when she and her husband first bought it. As time went on, the couple busied themselves with remodeling the structure.
"We exposed the original brick and kept the floors but worked on them a little," Debi said. "The original counter now holds all the candy, and right by the counter is the original ladder that was in the hardware store.
"The staircase that leads to the attic was here, too, so we completely redid it," she said.
At some point, a decision was made to turn shelves that once held nails and other implements into something a little different.
"We've got a lot of collectibles in here," Debi said. "So many books, you can't believe it. I have a whole row of cookbooks, a lot of Fiesta ware, John Deere items, hundreds of model kits and board games, DVDs, vinyl albums, and just tons of mugs."
Among the glassware and books, toward the back of the store is a treasure that can be enjoyed while perusing the nearly eight-foot tall shelves of memorabilia.
"We built a kitchenette back there for the ice cream," Debi said. "I know someone who makes it in Warsaw, it's home-made. So we sell it here. We don't have any plans to serve any other kind of food here."
Customers have the options of chocolate, vanilla, black walnut, cookie dough, butter pecan, strawberry, caramel or mint chocolate chip ice cream to be served in a cup or cone. In case one flavor isn't enough, customers may wash down the first cone with a soda or water, which the emporium also offers.
The emporium has been open since Sept. 16, and since then, it has been the town hotspot for former students of the Baumerts, giving them the opportunity to catch up on town goings-on.
"I taught mostly sixth grade for about 39 years," Debi said. "Kirby was a history and P.E. teacher for 35. So we see a lot of students coming in here after school. They have all been tremendously supportive of us ever since we bought this store and even more so now."
Possibly one of the most comforting features of the new store is what some customers have come to call "the old man bench," Debi said.
"We put in this long bench here for people to eat ice cream and look out the window," she said. "It's a good spot to watch Jamestown traffic go by."
Debi said a lot of the construction work was done by their friend, Donald Gerlach.
"He was instrumental in the construction," she said. "We so appreciate his help. I'd have an idea of how I'd want something to look, and he'd do what he could to figure out how to make it work."
The Baumerts refer to this venture as "our retirement project." Apparently, the endeavor has paid off, as of yet.
"We've had so much help along the way with the emporium," Debi said. "The whole community has been tremendously supportive and we are just so hugely impressed with Jamestown."