LENOX -- "After 33 years, we're retiring!" proclaims the colorful, dayglo lettered sign on the window of the historic village's only health-food retail store, Clearwater Natural Resources.
Sisters Ruth Wheeler and Maggie Sadoway, who have owned the downtown business for all that time, are celebrating the just-concluded purchase-and-sale agreement allowing them to pass the store on to new proprietor-siblings -- Danielle Dragonetti, 27, and her brother Jason, 30, who continue to own the Spoon eatery across the street, which they opened in June 2011.
"We've been trying to sell the store for two and a half years and it's finally off our plate," Sadoway quipped on Thursday. "Spoon forked over the dough this morning." She declined to disclose the transaction amount.
"We're really happy," Sadoway said as customers streamed in, offering congratulations. "Ruth and I were really hoping we could find a buyer because we could have just closed, but we didn't want to leave Lenox without a natural-foods store. We're thrilled that two really likable, creative, energetic young people have decided to spread their wings and try this as well. We think they're going to do a great job, we're very confident. They'll make a totally fresh start."
The Dragonetti siblings hope to re-open the store as soon as possible following a facelift, but they don't have a target date yet. They're also considering a new name for the store, which they have been eying ever since it went on the market, and they plan to maintain similar daily operating hours.
"A natural-foods store is important to the community, a lot of people don't want to see it get lost," said Danielle Dragonetti. "We'll be maintaining it but offering more products and services. We're looking for a lot of feedback from the community and stocking our shelves with what people want to see."
"It will be a very nice, symbiotic relationship between the restaurant and the store, and vice versa," she added. "We'll keep the natural organic standard, but broaden out to bring in local products."
"There's lots of bounty to be harvested in the Berkshires; people who do jams, syrups, honey and pickles," she said. "We will stock whatever we can that comes from our backyards. We'll bring in some produce from local farmers. Produce will be the biggest new offering."
For the sisters, it's a sweet ending to a frustrating search for new blood; the store was under consideration for a time by the Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington as a satellite operation.
But in late November, the Co-op board decided not to pursue a deal in order to focus on their pending expansion to a new site near their current location on Bridge Street.
Up stepped the Dragonettis, a "very happy surprise," Sadoway said as she contemplated the Feb. 3 closing date for the transaction. Until then, everything in the store is at least 15 percent off to clear out the inventory, and there's a tag sale of eclectic items ranging from a desk chair to ski boots, battery chargers, a coffee maker, children's toys and paintings by her husband, artist Jack Sadoway.
"We'll miss the customers we've built up relationships with," she said. "It's been a home away from home as well. We get to see our friends who just drop in. We'll find other ways to carry on those things."
On Friday, the sisters marked the 19th anniversary of their move to the current Housatonic Street location from a site just across the street. They plan to continue living in their Lenox homes, eventually to pursue new, still-undetermined ventures. "We're open to suggestions," Sadoway said.