Behind the papered-up windows of the 19th-century building at the corner of Main and Walnut streets in Margaretville, Lizzie Douglas is abuzz with enthusiasm. Known locally as the energetic wedding and event planner behind Lizzies’ Pop-Up Parties, Douglas has recently taken on the task of rehabbing the town’s beloved Bussy Building and converting it to host her new business, Stick in the Mud.
Like the building, the business plan is still under construction, but the general idea is to create a retail store and cafe that stocks and serves locally sourced groceries, dry goods, snacks and sweets.
Built in 1850 and currently owned by real estate agents Eric Wedermeyer and Susan Doig, 743 Main St. most recently was home for eight years to the Foothills Shoe store, which moved to Fleischmanns in August. From 1900 until the mid-1980s, Lafayette Bussy and his descendants operated a grocery and dry goods store there.
Douglas, who moved to Margaretville from Colorado, worked at the shoe store for six years. Seeing her old workplace shuttered like so many other old buildings in the Delaware County village after the shoe store moved out motivated her to take up the challenge from friends and community members who were urging her to open her own place.
“It takes a village, doesn’t it?” she said yesterday. “We all have to work together to make things happen, because if we don’t, we might as well close down Main Street.”
So far, Douglas has exposed the building’s original wood floors and ceiling, repainted the interior and installed new lights. She is crowd-sourcing donations through a Go Fund Me appeal, with a goal of raising $15,000 toward further renovations, which would include building a kitchen. The campaign has raised $3,420 from 28 donors to date.
While she is not aiming to recreate the original Bussy’s Store, Douglas is collecting anecdotal remembrances from local residents. She hopes to revive some of the traditions from the old store, such as a giant wheel of cheese that perched on a wine barrel just inside the door.
In the short-term, Douglas plans to welcome customers between Thanksgiving and Christmas for snacks and shopping.
“Wherever we’re at when Thanksgiving comes, the lights will be on and the doors will be open,” she said.
The idea is to create “a warm, fuzzy feeling” on the village’s prominent corner during the holidays, and to offer a limited menu centered on waffles. They will be sourced from Pika’s Farm Table and served on a stick, along with fixings like maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Douglas gave the dish a trial run at a recent tourism event at Hubbell Family Farm, and was pleased with the reviews.
She will also have coffee, tea and hot apple cider, along with some Catskill-made handicrafts for holiday shoppers. A party room along the Walnut Street side will be available for private events of up to 25 people, she said.
The store will then close at the end of the year to finish the renovations, and reopen in full-service mode in the spring, Douglas said.
“In July, when I left here, I never expected I’d be owning my own business here,” Douglas said. “It’s like a dream come true.”