Two new shops have disclosed plans to join the former A&R Furniture & Interiors building currently under construction for up to five new spaces at 12th and Pine streets in downtown Paso Robles.
Existing downtown gifts and apparel retailer Firefly Gallery and newcomer shop General Store Paso Robles plan to open alongside Artisan restaurant in the early summer.
Artisan, which has operated in its art-deco style home at 1401 Park St. since 2006, signed on to the move late last year.
There will be a trio of related businesses in a redesigned space at a highly visible downtown corner currently set among eateries, wine tasting and retail.
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Building owner Nick Tompkins “has an incredible vision for that corner,” General Store Paso Robles co-owner Jillian Waters said. “I live downtown, and there’s so much energy with the construction in the park and new businesses opening.”
Tompkins is a local developer with San Luis Obispo-based NKT Commercial.
Waters, Erin Stuck and Joeli Yaguda are co-owners of the General Store. They previously worked together at Pasolivo Olive Oil.
The trio doesn’t plan to hire employees other than themselves at this time.
The women are having some fun with the location’s history since before it was A&R Furniture, the building was the longtime home of the Paso Robles Mercantile, which was like a department store.
“We've been combing through the historical society records of that building and have been really inspired,” Yaguda told The Tribune. “That’s why we call it General Store Paso Robles – we want it to reflect how special this place is.”
The building, with its large picture windows and showroom interiors spanning 12,000 square feet, has mostly sat empty since closing in 2011.
Tompkins is in the process of redesigning the showroom into four or five separate spaces, with three storefronts each facing City Park and a fourth space on Pine Street that can be divided.
On Tuesdays, construction workers with NK Builders Inc. were dismantling the existing mezzanine area, the storefront wall had been removed and much of the interior hadn't been dry-walled yet.
A bakery is currently in negotiations for the final space facing Pine Street, according to the building contractor, but nothing has been officially disclosed yet.
The General Store proprietors, all from San Luis Obispo County, are basing their shop concept on the three-part theme: “Picnic, Pantry and Home” in about 1,200 square feet.
“We've spent months working with local producers to create custom vinegars, herb blends, bar soaps, healing balms, lotions, sugar lip balm... all from local ingredients and all just for us,” Yaguda said.
Those selections will make up the pantry part of store in addition to “interesting and harder to find things for your kitchen,” such as California hot sauce trios and chocolate dipped homemade graham crackers, she said.
Paso Robles-based Trumpet Vine Catering owner, Jennie Sturgeon, is designing a series of “grab and go” picnic products, such as hummus, veggie noodle salad and an artichoke tapenade, Yaguda said. She also mentioned crackers, salami, Dijon zucchini chips and a freezer area with a few take-home meals and seasonal popsicles.
Meanwhile, Firefly Gallery’s move next door will allow the shop owners – North County mother-daughter duo Laurel and Emily Miller -- to expand their clothing and art lines.
The new 1,800-square-foot location will also add about 700 square feet to Firefly’s current footprint, giving room for a larger dressing room with seating area and the possibility of hiring additional employees to its current two-person staff. They’re also considering expanded hours on Friday and Saturday to cater to the strolling dinner crowds.
“It will be the same formula, the same vibe but just in a new space,” Emily Miller said from behind the counter of her shop on Tuesday.
The store features an eclectic array of locally made products, including jewelry and décor. The pair’s fun, whimsical take on window displays will also carry over to the new location, she said.
News that her current space on 1301 Park St. is opening up has attracted interest, she said after pausing to take a call from an interested party, but new possible tenants haven’t been disclosed yet.
A sneak peek of General Store Paso Robles’ goods will be featured at Halter Ranch during the Zinfandel Festival March 15 to 17 at 8910 Adelaida Road.