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When Andy Dufresne is sent to prison in the film The Shawshank Redemption, the mantra that keeps him sane behind bars is, "Get busy living or get busy dying." I walked into Olivesburg General Store on a rainy, spring day ready to do some "living" as I sat down to enjoy their famous Shawshank Sundae, aptly named since the store is one of the stops on the local Shawshank Trail. Many of the ceiling lights in the store actually came from the set of the movie.
The sundae starts with a decadent, warm brownie, ready to dig into with your spoon. Heaped on top of that is a generous dip of rich, creamy, peanut butter ice cream, laced with crunchy, buttery morsels. Moving up the mountain, treat yourself to loads of hot fudge, whipped cream, colorful mini M&Ms and a cherry on top. This dessert was pure perfection, so good it should be illegal!
Forty years before the ice cream sundae was even invented, The Olivesburg General Store came into being at 4778 State Route 545 in Ashland. Established in 1840 and known as a local convenience and curiosities shop for the area, current business owner Connie Tucker has been at the helm, continuing to foster a "more like family than friends" atmosphere in the shop for the past 13 years.
You get a real sense of the strength the local community has when you hear the story behind Olivesburg General Store's most popular sandwich, the "Body Slammer" named after the July 4th incident in 2013 when an inmate was captured inside the store.
If you're curious, you can find a video of the harrowing moment on YouTube. The convict, known throughout the area from his mug shot images that were being posted since his escape, tried to purchase a lighter and an iced tea at the counter. Two patrons across the store realized who the man was and took action, one of them executing a full body slam, lifting the convict into the air and pinning him, allowing other customers to come around and help tie the dazed and confused man up until law enforcement arrived.
The "Body Slammer" pulverizes your growling stomach into submission with a trio of meats: honey ham, oven turkey and trail bologna. Swiss, Colby and marble cheeses are paired with a line up of Miracle Whip, mustard, ketchup, horseradish sauce, banana peppers, pickles and onions. All of this available for $6.99, or make it a meal for $8.29.
In addition to these unique menu items, there's specialty pizzas including chicken bacon ranch and buffalo chicken. The store offers call ahead pick-up and many dining in the area will call in their order ahead of time.
The guest book by the door gives you a glimpse of the past few years of visitors. Some have come from as far away as India and Japan - with visitors from across the U.S. stopping in to leave their mark along the way.
The store is a creature of the past, surrounded with an attitude and an atmosphere all it's own. In years gone by it has supplied the community with everything from dynamite and diamonds to cookie cutters and groceries.
This is a store that is there for its people, and truly cares. Photos of local sports teams line the walls and Connie is getting ready to support and participate in the upcoming MS Walk, which raises funds and awareness to help end multiple sclerosis.
Every morning a group of regular customers go to Olivesburg General Store for their cup of coffee and a dose of everything good and horrible that's happening in the world. Known as "The Olivesburg Gang" they sip and talk, laughing and sharing, bringing the level of authenticity at the store to its height.
In addition to being the real deal on the local level, Olivesburg General Store was voted to have the best sandwich in Mid-Ohio and their ice cream has been recognized for three consecutive years.
Coach buses, cars and motorcycle clubs roll in on a regular basis to discover a resting ground, and the old style gas pump out front is there to top them off for the journey.
Cookie Cutter Alley is another big draw for local bakers. There are over 750 silicon and metal cookie cutters to choose from, and the possibilities are endless, definitely not limited to a specific holiday. If there is a shape or a design you're hunting for your collection, you will find it here.
"I used the cutters to do meat and cheese shapes for our party trays," Connie pointed out. "People love them and it's something fun, unique and different." In addition to running the store, Connie also enjoys making her own line of homemade chocolates called Angel's Heavenly Chocolates.
Connie stocks all the cookie cutters her supplier carries, specialized baking tools, a wall of sprinkles in all shapes, colors and sizes, cup cake liners, cake pans - really it's too many items to take in at one time.
"You could come back again and again and still not see everything we have here in the store," added Connie.
Beyond baking, the general store offers an assortment of household decor items, sweatshirts and t-shirts and hundreds of foods, beverages, and convenience items for people on the go. You can also browse through a consignment room of antiques and collectibles, handmade soaps, candles and picture frames.
Much like Red thought when he first laid eyes on Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, you may not know what to think of Olivesburg General Store at first glance, but step inside and I guarantee by the end of your visit, you'll be putting your money on this charming, blue, character-rich place.
Be sure to follow them online at facebook.com/likeOGS and OlivesburgGeneralStore.com. For more information or to phone in your next lunch or dinner order, call 419-895-1038 or 419-289-7548.