In the age of Amazon and big-box retailers, the idea of a hometown general store can seem a bit antiquated. But in Erin Wade’s hands, it makes perfect sense.
“I’ve been working on and planning for this for forever: The concept of a general store that’s interpreted through a modern lens, building a sense of community and a gathering space for Santa Fe—and then all of a sudden it came together really quickly,” says Wade, who is also chef and owner of Vinaigrette salad bistro.
Modern General is a far cry from the reproduced general stores of the 1800s that you often find in tourist towns, though.
“We wanted to keep the essence of a general store, that 19th-century spirit, but refine it to address modern needs,” Wade says.
Instead of the abundance of choice that’s so common in retail experiences these days, Wade offers a pared-down selection of items.
“We wanted to offer this really curated, edited collection of functional items that you need and that bring joy to your life,” Wade says. “That’s one of our major deciding factors when it comes to product: Does it spark joy?”
A focal point of the store is the Austrian mill with stone grinder that allows staff to mill organic and heirloom wheat and gluten-free flours (sourced primarily from Hayden Flour Mills in Tempe, Arizona) for sale in bulk and use in the café.
The café menu offers simple, organic food and beverage options, including fresh juices, single-origin coffees and specialty teas, alongside their signature Czech kolache pastries.
“We not only want to be the go-to for trusted items and daily needs, but a gathering place for friends and family—much like the historical general store,” says Wade. “You can go buy some household staples, but also relax and have a coffee with friends, or even just swing by to refuel with some of our green juice. We are really trying to create a communal atmosphere in Santa Fe that is both functional and beautiful.”