FORESTPORT, NY – It was a big day for residents of Forestport on Saturday.
For some the wait was almost unbearable, but now all the shelves have been stocked, the floors cleaned and the tape cut.
Welcome to Bonnie’s Country Store.
Located on Woodhull Road, customers lined up early, eager to check things out. “Oh wow”, seemed to be the general consensus.
Co-owners Amy Nelson and Aaron LaBella said they’ve received calls over the past few weeks asking when the store will open. They can’t believe the day has finally come.
“First this morning we had presents on the doorstep,” Nelson said. “Cards and flowers were dropped off by local businesses congratulating and thanking us for bringing this back. As a child I used to ride my bike here and get penny candies. We used to call it Bonnie’s Mall and it mattered to me. Then I realized it mattered to everyone in this community.
Bonnie’s had been closed for two and a half years. Local bridge construction forced seasonal traffic away from the store and then Covid hit. The previous owners were forced to close what had been a community staple for years.
“There’s no store here where you can buy milk or eggs or things like that,” Forestport resident Julie Sweet said. “Now they’re going to have a deli, pizza and all that kind of food, so instead of driving, with gas prices so high, it’s literally 10 minutes from my place, compared to Boonville or Utica which would be about half an hour anyway.”
When Aaron and Amy saw the opportunity to buy the store, they jumped at the chance. After residents realized the store might reopen, they only had one question.
“From day one,” LaBella said, “the first question everyone asked was, ‘Are you going to have penny candy?’ and that’s the first thing we said We must have penny candy We really wanted to embody again what it feels like to be in an old fashioned country store Where we know you are your first name, and you walk in and get a cup of coffee and whatever else you need. Hopefully we’ll see you a few times a week.”
Bonnie’s Country Store started in the 70’s and the new owners wanted to pay homage to the original owner.
“We asked her if we could call it Bonnie’s and she said yes. So we decided to stick with that name because that’s how everyone knows it. That’s what all the locals still called it, so it’s version 2 of Bonnie’s Country Store.”
For now Bonnie’s will be open this 4e July weekend from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then they will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The owners say they will add more hours once they finish work on the deli that will soon be part of the store.