ROSWELL, Ga. — When Bruno Costanzo would take his wife Julie out to dinner downtown, he grew restless accompanying her afterward when she window shopped at nearby boutiques.
All of the shops seemed to cater to women.
Constanzo saw a void in storefronts tailored to the area’s male clientele and he sought to fill it.
The solution, he hopes, is Roswell General and Outfitters at 35 Woodstock Road, a stone’s throw from Canton Drive in the heart of downtown Roswell.
“I think there was a huge need for a guy place out on Canton Street,” Bruno Costanzo said.
The new business, which opened in June, is a partnership between two married couples that live across the street from each other. Bruno and Julie Costanzo joined with their longtime neighbors Robin and Ken Moncrief.
Robin Moncrief is a longtime Realtor who sells houses for Atlanta Fine Homes. Ken is a traveling food plant designer by trade. Meanwhile Bruno Costanzo has owned his own general contracting company in town for the past 15 years. Julie works as a schoolteacher.
The owners envision the store as a gathering place where people can hang out, have a beer and make connections. They throw weekend grill parties on the front deck when professional chefs are invited to do casual cook sessions and share their craftsmanship on the Big Green Egg.
“This is a community center,” Ken Moncrief said. “We encourage people to talk, exchange ideas and just come in and have an outdoor experience.”
The store is a throwback to campground general stores. But it has a modern twist. It’s anchored by two popular products with loyal customer bases — Big Green Egg and Yeti — serving as a platinum dealer for both brands. Hats, BBQ sauces, housewares, coolers, charcoal, CBD products, thermoses and camping backpacks are other mainstays. Robin Moncrief and Julie Costanza added the women’s touch, bringing in scented candles, lotions, penny candies and clothing for female customers.
The store seeks out local businesses and entrepreneurs to partner with, so many of the items are homegrown products. The themes are outdoor living, uncommon goods and family fun.
The couples bought the two-bedroom home in January and planned to hire contractors to retrofit it. But COVID-19 forced them to scrap those plans. Instead, they did the work themselves. The foursome tore apart the home’s interior and rebuilt it, revamping the building from wood-planked floor boards to the vaulted ceilings.
“Since none of us were going to work, the four of us got on our hands and knees, gutted the whole building and re-did it in those few months,” Robin Moncrief said.
The store fittingly opened on Father’s Day this year.
The home had been a beauty salon, a day care, served as the offices of a dynamite shop, and was possibly even a ski store. All four said it was once a house of disrepute known for drug activity.
The couples spent 16 weeks between February and June reshaping the building, chipping away at its past notoriety one board at a time.
Neighboring business owners, runners, bicyclists and pedestrians in the neighborhood witnessed the old home’s daily evolution as Ken, Bruno, Robin and Julie carried out the renovations.
“This is really like an egg to all these people, and now we’ve hatched it,” Ken Moncrief said.
The crew started doing their repairs shortly before COVID-19 reached the U.S.
The pandemic bogged down supply, making it a hurdle to get items in the store. As companies shut down or scaled back, products took longer to be delivered. Julie Costanzo said Big Green Egg merchandise nearly didn’t make it in time for the store’s grand opening.
“It was very frightening,” Julie Costanzo said. “But we’ve been busy. And the community has been so responsive.”
She noted another ironic twist of the pandemic. It slowed down business from the owners’ respective day jobs, allowing them to focus on repairs.
“It gave us the time to do this work,” she said. “So, in a way it was a blessing because we were able to build this store.”
Wood from a fallen tree at Barrington Hall, one of Roswell’s oldest homes, was used to build the store’s counter and is prominent throughout the shop. Bruno Costanzo said he hopes the store can provide locals relief from the pandemic.
“We took a horrible building at a horrible time and made it a beautiful structure,” he said. “At a time when the community [is] falling apart, they can come here and meet and socialize with one another..”