When Mary Beth Hughes opened the beloved Tallulah Point Overlook Store with her then-husband, Don Bundrick, in August of 1994, the idea was simple. The store would serve as a one-stop shop for eager park-goers to rent mountain bikes, pick up a few souvenirs for reminiscing, and grab some snacks and drinks before traversing the new state park. She never imagined the success that their little seasonal shop, which was only open eight months of the year and occupied only a fraction of the building they were leasing, would see.
“We had absolutely no capital…only an idea and a willingness to work hard. We went ahead and opened the store before we bought the mountain bikes. We got them in September and put them on our credit card,” Hughes told me. “It’s a pretty incredible success story when you think about it. We built that business with very little.”
The store became nothing short of a Tallulah Falls staple over the course of the next twenty-six years, where tourists and locals alike would flock for tin toys, old-fashioned candy, jams and jellies, souvenirs, locally made items, tin signs, candles, knives, and more.
Hughes had previously worked for New Morning Gallery in Asheville, and she decided to invite craftspeople she’d met there to put their wares on consignment as well. Throw into the mix an array of antiques she owned, like her soda bottle collection or the clawfoot bathtub she displays her soap in, and the shop became an interesting amalgamation of sorts that intrigued virtually everyone passing through. A sprawling business was born, and soon enough the shop was occupying the entire building and closed only two days of each year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Business continued as usual until May 26th, 2020, when her landlord decided that he needed to reevaluate his priorities because of the pandemic. He gave her only sixty days to vacate the premises. Despite this devastating news, Hughes held her head up high and immediately began searching for a new space. She knew of an old general store on Main Street in Tallulah Falls where she could relocate and renamed her business The General Store to reflect these new roots.
With the new location came a desire to expand her offerings, and she decided that selling general fare was something she wanted to do with her new venture. Staples like milk, eggs, butter, pasta, chips, canned goods, coffee, dry goods, condiments, cereal, peanut butter, salt, sugar, flour, fruit, s’more makings, spaghetti sauce, rice, fire starters, lighter fluid, tent stakes, and rope, among other items campers might need, are now for sale. A plethora of local goods can also be purchased, including soaps from Little Bee Body Care and Honeybee 76, seasonal organic produce from Taterville Farms, and honey from Blue Ridge Honey Company. But despite her expanded product line and the new location, her shop is still largely the same beloved destination many came to adore.
Does she miss anything about her old spot, you might wonder?
“The wonderful employees that I had, my regulars that have yet to find me in the new location, all the motorcycles that used to stop there,” Hughes said. But, per usual, Hughes is as chipper as ever, optimistic that business will build back up in due time. “I think my drop in sales and traffic will not last. I envision business picking up. The future looks bright!”
Aside from stopping by her new shop, which is a must for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of doing so, there are a few other non-negotiables for those visiting Tallulah Falls. Visitors can go fishing, hunt for hidden treasures sprinkled throughout the state park, hike the trails, or attend one of the bi-annual whitewater releases that take place in April and November.
The General Store
100 Main St., Tallulah Falls, GA 30573
Summer Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays