Manton General Store operated just fine for 61 years without running water.
Just fine, that is, until the contents of the store were auctioned off in January.
The Newton family ran the store during that period, but the boys (John and Bob) decided it was time to auction off all the old goods and knick knacks.
Running a business takes a lot of time, and they were looking for other ways to spend it.
“It was too many hours,” John said. “I miss the people, talking to them. We spent 65 hours a week in here.”
Seven months later, the store is open again and undergoing massive amounts of change.
New owners have taken over, for one thing.
Becky and Joe Kelty run the place now. They’ve got big ideas, too.
One of the first things they’d like to have is running water.
They’re off to a good start, as the water meter was recently installed outside.
With running water, Becky would be able to prepare food to sell for lunch.
She would like to sell plate lunches initially, and if that works out, start making pastries and desserts at night.
“They’d get dessert free,” Becky said, smiling.
With the desire to serve food, Becky must be a great cook, right?
“She’s the best,” Joe said, without taking any cues from his wife.
“People are already waiting so they can hurry up and get their lunches, so they don’t have to go to town to buy lunch,” Becky said.
The building, owned by Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Manton, needed other repairs besides running water.
New hardwood floors were brought in, and the walls and ceiling have been painted.
Two monuments from the previous owners remain in the building, bought back by the church at auction.
First is the cooler that sat in the middle of the store. The old girl still buzzes away, keeping everything cool as the shade under the porch.
Second is the icon of Manton General Store, the pot belly stove.
Of course, the loafers are still in place, as well.
Two of those loafers include the Newton brothers, who can’t seem to get away from the store.
“I stop in about every day to see Joe,” John Newton said. “I still see all the friends. They still come around, most of them, don’t they?”
“I’m glad they started it up,” Bob Newton said. “I come down here about every day.”
The store is mostly consignment now, with seven vendors selling items.
Most of those items are antiques and collectibles.
Items range in price from a quarter to a $150 violin.
Neither Joe nor Becky have any experience running a business, but it’s been something Becky has often thought of doing.
“I was just a housewife, but then before we married I worked in a factory in Shelbyville,” she said. “I want to be my own boss.”
“She wants to be my boss, too,” Joe said, cracking a smile.
The couple agreed that things had been slow in the few weeks since they opened the doors.
“It’s a little tougher than I thought it would be,” Joe said. “It’s not the work, I don’t mind the work. It’s just being stuck in one spot.”
While the new owners have new ideas about the old store, one modern convenience may not find it’s way inside.
“I don’t know whether my wife is going to get a phone line or not,” Joe said.
The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.