B.I. Health and General Store reinvented in a new location
This is not a typical Block Island couch-surfing story. But the ingredients are somewhat the same.
The Block Island Health and General Store has moved from its High Street hillside home of several years into a new location next to The Oar at the Block Island Boat Basin, in the long blue building.
Proprietors Jack and Abra Savoie are eager to show off their new digs just as soon as they can get completely unpacked, but right now Sertex has about 70 percent of the space, while they wait for others to move out of their space.
In the near term, all are singing “Kumbaya” while they remain open Friday through Sunday with shortened hours, but expect to be fully launched by the time the harbor marinas begin to welcome the first boaters. “We can’t wait to get everything finally unpacked and organized,” said the Savoies.
On a recent Friday noon visit, Abra was busy with the broom whisking away invisible dirt while casually engaging customers with her always welcoming smile and infectious, warm personality. “Envelopes? Sure we’ve got them, let me find the box while you look around.” Even two moped
riders who were hoping for lunch at the clearly shuttered Oar, with a parking lot piled high with jack hammered concrete and plumbing, did not faze her other than a quiet ‘are you kidding me side-glance’ as they motored up and around. “Oh gosh, the season has begun.”
With the additional space the store is adding exciting new product categories that are sure to be very popular with the island, beginning with hardy plants, flowers, seeds, bird feeders and feed, bags and bags of mulch, in other words, a go-to place for everything “gardenneeze” quipped Abra,
clearly enjoying the spontaneity of her new moniker.
For years the building has served as a storefront of sorts for the Boat Basin crowds and “west enders” who in uniquely Rhode Island parlance, do not want to drive all the way to town, and that is likely not going to change.
“The store will have coolers and a freezer section that will include ice for the boaters and all the popular quick foods that kids and adults crave at affordable prices from chicken nuggets to ice cream, and soft drinks. And oh yea, lots of hot dogs,” emphasized Abra, “as we’ve been told everyone uses them for crabbing in addition to cooking them on the grill.”
Staples for everyday family survival from milk to bread will also be stocked, and for those rainy days and pop-up birthdays the store will continue to carry a huge assortment of art supplies, toys, coloring books and gifts that have saved many an extended family gathering.
The other new category for the Savoies will be in the marine end of the business with everyday supplies to keep boats operating. “If you don’t see it in the store,” said Abra, “ask, and we hope to be able to get it for you by the next day.”
With each passing weekend they hope the transition to the store they envision will take place as the couch surfing will be behind them and they settle into a new long-term location and their loyal island customers rediscover their new digs.
“We’re open, and doing business,” said Abra. “Come visit.”