“How do we nurture each other again?” Oriana Moebius asked on a crisp autumn day in Redstone. Together with Rochelle Norwood, Moebius owns the Redstone General Store on property purchased by her husband, Tyler Moebius, in 2020. On Oct. 13, they celebrated three years since resurrecting the business which has existed in some form since 1893 and closed at the onset of the pandemic. The anniversary was tempered by a dawning realization that without substantial assistance the Redstone General Store will have to close at the end of this year.
“It’s taking more life force than the two of us have,” said Norwood. She and her mother, Gina Tassinari, receive salaries to manage the store, from 8am to 6pm, every day of every week. Fresh baked goods are prepared each morning. According to Moebius, the rent costs around $5,000 per month, plus insurance, and there are pending repairs.
The day of our interview, an Egyptian man cycling from Nashville, Tennessee to Joshua Tree, California wore a wide smile as Tassinari fed him a giant burrito and ice cream and placed a Redstone General Store patch on the fellow’s saddle bag.
While summers are characteristically busy at the store, visitation drops with the falling leaves. Rather than become a seasonal store, this team is committed to providing the local community with a year-round hub.
Without the Redstone General Store, residents of the Crystal Valley would have to drive to Carbondale for food staples and supplies. For this reason, Norwood and Moebius regard the Crystal Valley as a food desert. This situation is amplified when sections of Highway 133 are blocked by mudslides — not an infrequent occurrence.
“We need the support of this larger community,” said Norwood. “If [the store] goes away, there are so many losers.”
Norwood and Moebius are seeking to turn the business into a nonprofit by integrating the neighboring building to function as a community center where events and classes can be hosted, and by establishing an educational component where people of all ages can learn to prepare and market products. Receiving grants to teach youth and adults vocational skills could help cover the mortgage during the slower winter months, and Norwood has a background in arts education and previously owned a chocolate and ice cream business.
A press release stipulated that $1 million is needed to secure the building and assure other needs are met.
“Given more resources, we can truly serve with greater capacity,” said Moebius. With her husband having made an initial investment to save the store, it’s up to Moebius and Norwood to find a successful and sustainable model for the public to continue to benefit from a community hub in Redstone. She calls it “a hearth.”
According to Moebius, additional funding would help 1) hire more employees and 2) make needed repairs and expand the kitchen.
“It’s more than a store,” Moebius repeated. The current vision emphasizes selling local items including food and gifts, in addition to other goods like camping and emergency supplies. On the final Thursday of each month, the Redstone General Store hosts a community meal with live music. They serve as a stop on the American Discovery Trail for through-hikers to replenish rations. And on any given day, customers from near and far can drop in for warm company and a homestyle meal.
Beyond selling things, the Redstone General Store functions as a welcome center for tourists and a gathering place for locals. The space next door has been sparsely used, so far, but it’s served as a private meeting space, multigenerational classroom and even a thrift store. Part of the nonprofit vision is to keep this space available as Redstone’s community center.
“If the General Store closed, my business would be screwed,” said Laura Reagan, referring to an art gallery and internet cafe she operates further north on the boulevard. Reagan is also the Redstone General Store’s accountant and has been helping write grants. She sees Redstone’s potential as a shopping destination with stores up and down the boulevard, anchored by two restaurants on either end and held at its center by the Redstone General Store.
In addition to becoming a nonprofit, the Redstone General Store is exploring other avenues, such as Pitkin County acquiring the building and leasing it. This would look similar to The Launchpad, rented to Carbondale Arts by the Town of Carbondale, or The Marble Hub building, similarly leased by Gunnison County to a nonprofit. Another option being floated is the co-op model, thus establishing the Redstone Community Store.
“While the overall goal may be to raise $1 million total, the more reasonable goal in the short-term is to raise enough money to secure the building,” the press release concluded. “This would help the store survive the winter and kick off Spring ’24 with more momentum and learnings.”
Experienced people are sought to help with the transition to a nonprofit. Additionally, generous individuals and entities willing to pledge $10,000 per year for 10 years would guarantee success. Otherwise, donations of all sizes are currently being accepted at www.redstonegeneralstore.com
You can contact the store at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 970-963-3126.