What would make Randy Neely and Steve Archuleta leave Madeira, Portugal -- an island known for its beautiful weather, local wine and pristine beaches – and return to Ellicott City?
“Our customers are what brought us back,” Neely said.
“We love our customers,” Archuleta chimed in. “I don’t know what else to say.”
The two closed the doors of their Tongue Row gift shop Good Life Market about two years ago to head to Portugal for a "sabbatical," as Archuleta phrased it. While there, Neely wrote a book -- Eighteen Inches of Courage -- and the two did some soul searching.
Their journey brought them back to the Historic District a month ago where they will soon be opening The New General Store, a boutique grocery and home-goods shop at 8249 Main Street.
They are setting up shop in the storefront that was once after a more than 125-year residency on Main Street.
The duo’s new venture will not be a carbon copy of the Good Life Market – voted Best of Baltimore in 2008 and 2010 by Baltimore Magazine. The focus of The New General Store, Neely said, will be more on food, highlighted by a deli and local produce offerings.
A taste of The Good Life will linger, however, as the store also plans to sell a selection of bath and body products, stationary and other gifts.
Opening day is scheduled for Sept. 29 to coincide with the Historic District's Fall Festival.
“It will be kind of like what [Yates Market owner] Betty had here, but more of a boutique,” Neely said standing inside the freshly painted store Friday morning.
“This is truly a general store.”