story & photo
by Maren Schober
Something new and wonderful opened at 52 Sacred Heart Drive, Groton, and today, I am checking it out. Walking through the door the aroma of home baked goods surrounds me and I have all I can do not to head right for the muffin counter. The fresh blueberry and orange cranberry muffins are unbelievably tantalizing.
“Hello,” Allan Selserman, manager, Arc General Store and Bakery, greets me. “Welcome to our new store. We opened May 3. Everything you see in the store is made by our Arc individuals or donated by their families and our staff members. This is Sophia Wright. She will give you a tour.”
The General Store is one large comfortable room with the bakery off to one side. The rest of the store is filled with a large variety of gift shop items. “Here is some jewelry made by us,” Sophia, age 19, points out.
I see a large inventory of beaded necklaces and bracelets. “Did you make one of these?” I ask
“I made this one,” Sophia replies and hands me a pretty bracelet. Sophia stands before me with the biggest smile on her face and it is right from her heart.
She is smiling at me with her whole being which is something I don’t experience often enough. It feels so good. I am warmed from within and return the smile. It is impossible not to like this young woman immediately.
Sophia continues the tour pointing out candles, tea cup sets, rubber stamps, tie dyed shirts, other crafts made by the Arc individuals and sweatshirts, ceramic coffee mugs and travel mugs, with the Arc logo on them.
“This week we are going to start selling Cool Beans coffee which is roasted in Hartford and distributed by Crystal Rock Water,” Allan tells me.
“What do you do in this store, Sophia?” I asked.
“I take inventory using the computer, pricing, make coffee, customer service, cashier, and I help customers.”
Allan explains, “Upstairs on the second floor is our Employment Transition Center which includes a crafts room, library, job training area, computer lab and industrial kitchen all used to teach our clients life skills so they can get jobs as cooks, cashiers and similar positions. Although my title is manager, I consider myself much more than that. I am a mentor. I help these men and women feel good about themselves, increase their self confidence, and get jobs in the community.” Allan loves what he does and it shows!
Although the home made chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry raisin cookies are very tempting, I walk out with four muffins and one rubber stamp for my collection. All I can say is, you better get over there fast. You are in for a big treat and service with the biggest smiles you have ever seen.
The Store is open Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. For more information call 860.449.1529.