HOLIDAYS IN KELSEYVILLE, PART 1: A+H GENERAL STORE

Sabrina Andrus, owner of A+H General Store in Kelseyville, stands at the door, her curly black hair pulled up in a bun. Gold earrings dangle from her ears, complemented by a long gold chain accented with a quartz crystal.

Bright and whimsical, the store shines with a palpable glow. “We had a customer come in,” Sabrina explains, shifting her weight to her left foot.  “And he told me that we should call the store ‘The House of Mirth.’ I just loved that.”

A long table used for classes, meetings, and events has transformed into a fixture entirely dedicated to stocking stuffers. Old motel-style keychains with sayings like “Chin Up And Tits Out,” or “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” printed on them sit in glass jars.  Fart whistles are displayed next to bouncy eyeballs, lip balm, and whoopee cushions. “We sell more fart whistles than I could have ever predicted,” Sabrina says, smiling. “I can hardly keep them on the shelf.”

Over in the corner stand coolers filled with artisan cheeses and cured meats. “You have to try this with the Point Reyes blue cheese,” Sabrina hands over a jar of Girl Meets Dirt Quince Preserves. “Oh, and you’ll definitely want these also.” She heads to a display and grabs a box of Effie’s Homemade Malted Cocoa Cakes.  “These are sooo good together.”

It’s all part of the mystique of A+H, part mercantile, part general store, part wine studio, part florist, part gift shop.  “Essentially, I wanted a space that would showcase local, organic, and hard to find foods,” Sabrina explains, her dark eyes shining. “And I also wanted it to hearken back to the five and dimes and mercantiles of the past while maintaining a modern vibe.”

Although it has a strong old-school feel, modern touches appear throughout A+H. Industrial light fixtures balance the old electrical spools used as tables.  A wine bar with steel stools and a concrete countertop contrasts with the throwback products sitting on the shelves. A bright blue steel cart sits in the middle of the store, packed with Lord Phartwell’s Squishy Bouncy Poop, candy cigarettes, chewing gum cigars, and pixie sticks.

“When I was a kid, there was a liquor store across the street called Bello’s Liquor,” Sabrina points across Kelseyville’s Main Street.  “And one of my favorite things to do was to go over there and get those mini boxes of Boston Baked Beans. So when we opened up A+H, we wanted to carry things that we loved and remembered from our childhood that aren’t as easy to find.” She reaches over to the candy cart and grabs a box next to the fortune-telling fish. “See, here are Boston Baked Beans, and here are Lemon Heads. They were probably a nickel then, but now they’re twenty-five cents.” She flips the box back into its display.

 “We wanted to have a flexible space to do things as well,” Sabrina continues.  “We host flower arrangement classes, book clubs, coffee luncheons, and arrange private parties for people.” She pauses for a second. “Have you seen Parks and Rec?” she asks, the question sitting in her eyebrows.  “Well, we did our own Galentine’s Day this year and are already talking about ways we’ll top it next year.” She points to the long, wooden table filled with stocking stuffers. “That whole table was pink.”

After chatting with Sabrina, we do some of our own holiday shopping, combing the store looking for gifts for our kids. Along the stocking stuffer table, we find the fart whistle, a difficult item to pass by.  Whose son wouldn’t want one? We pick it up and add it to our basket, then discover some old-time peppermint candy and lip balm for our daughters. It’s the kind of place to spend some time and look closely, because amazing things hide in plain view.

We take our items to the register where Sabrina stands, waiting in front of old mail slots stuffed with succulents. She rings up our gifts, along with the blue cheese, quince preserves, and crackers, which we open immediately after arriving at home.  Sabrina was right; the quince with the cheese and crackers creates an amazing combination. That, along with a nice sip of port wine, completes the story.

A+H is part of the larger rebirth of Kelseyville’s Main Street. What, just a few years ago, was a quiet downtown filled with empty storefronts is now becoming a place to shop, taste wine and craft beers, eat good food, and enjoy an afternoon.

Be sure to visit A+H for your holiday shopping.  It’s a store filled with unique, perfectly giftable products, and it’s here, in the heart of our wonderful county, run by a home-grown Lake County girl, Sabrina Andrus, who’s returned to her roots to create something beautiful.

A+H GENERAL STORE

HOURS: Monday – Thursday 11 AM to 4 PM, Friday and Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM

A+H website

Facebook + Instagram: @aandhgeneralstore (Both are full of useful information)

3925 Main St, Kelseyville, CA 95451

(707) 279-5166

Trudy and David Wakefield

Trudy and David Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.

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