Not Dot Shop sells recycled, reused, repurposed items

Not Dot Shop is a unique business located on Main Street that is currently owned by 18 different people from around the area. The shop’s inventory covers a variety of interests, appealing to many. (Alicia Roth/Staff Photographer)

My first thought upon passing the Not Dot Shop for the first time was “What does that mean?” I had just arrived at Geneseo for my first college tour and was walking around Geneseo’s Main Street with my family.

The name of the store is an acronym that stands for “No One Thing Does One Thing.” All products sold are reused, recycled and/or repurposed, DIY projects and other interesting odds and ends. The products range from jewelry, home decor, antiques, games, books, pottery, knitted items and many other items, as Not Dot Shop’s inventory covers a multitude of different interests.

At first, Not Dot Shop’s building housed a florist shop. Building owner Marcia Podhorecki aspired to open a store that sold recycled items, however, so she reached out to some of her friends for help. 

When the store opened in October 2010, it had five owners in total. Currently, however, there are a whopping total of 18 owners that share the cost of staying open by square footage. Each of the owners work part time at the Not Dot Shop.

Every owner takes responsibility for their own part of the store; they do inventory and price their products as they see fit. There are no paid employees either, as each of the 18 owners run the store similar to a co-op. The Not Dot Shop utilizes the people they have to make their organization run as smoothly as possible. 

The owners don’t all live in Geneseo, though; they come from neighboring towns all over the county to help and do their fair share of the work.

The store displays a multitude of different styles and tastes, as each owner moves their own products so that there is something for everyone. Part owner Charleen Crump-Nesbitt described the shop as “eclectic” to address the difference not only in products, but also in the types of customers that come into the store. 

“Everyone who comes in is different,” Crump-Nesbitt said. “We have students, we have locals, we have couples out for an afternoon drive and we have parents coming up for the weekend.” 

A particularly attractive aspect of the store that brings this eclectic array of customers coming back is the low prices. 

“That was part of our original mandate: that we wanted to make things affordable,” Crump-Nesbitt said. 

The shop even won an award for “Best Bargain Store” by WHEC Channel 10 Rochester back in December 2016. 

So if you need a gift for Valentine’s Day, your parents or a co-worker, the Not Dot Shop offers a unique place with affordable items. The store’s character certainly fits the ambiance in our small town of Geneseo.

Euro Cafe: New location, same delicious European food

Those of us who have never traveled to Europe no longer need to worry about our lack of sophistication. Stepping into the Euro Cafe on Main St. is like walking along the streets of Warsaw. One cannot help but notice the gorgeous photos of the Polish city’s historical district that line the walls of the main seating area. Taken by one of the restaurant’s two owners, Margaret Zdzieszymski and Krystyna Skrzypek, these pictures serve as a reminder of home. Both of the proprietors came with their families to the United States as political refugees in 1986 and 1991, respectively. Zdzieszymski and Skrzypek founded the Euro Cafe several years ago, when accidental timing brought them together to establish the eatery. Zdzieszymski—who moved to Geneseo from Syracuse, New York when her husband took a job at Alfred University—was nursing her longtime dream of opening a restaurant that served Polish and Eastern European food.

While in the midst of changing jobs, Zdzieszymski met Skrzypek, who had recently lost her job. The two quickly realized that the time was right to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime. Rather than continue to look for alternative employment, they went into business together.

Euro Cafe came from humble beginnings in more ways than one. Its original location at 116 Main St. in Geneseo sat only five tables, which meant long wait times and lines for customers. Almost immediately, the pair began looking to expand their business, waiting for a larger location to become available.

As soon as 82 Main St. opened up, the two women once again seized the opportunity at hand and switched locations. After enduring a week and a half of the chaos that came with moving, they undertook a complete renovation of their new building, which lasted over a month.

Everything is prepared fresh at the time that a customer orders it, with homemade soups posing as one of the most popular choices. Stuffed cabbage and crepes both make an appearance on the menu, as does a huge selection of pierogis, which are prepared in its larger kitchen facility in Rochester.

Interestingly, the menu also includes a few entrees from Western cuisine, most notably wienerschnitzel. Zdzieszymski, who spent time in Vienna studying with some of the city’s best chefs, now prepares this specialty in her cafe with pride.

True to the motto of the state—which they have made their home—Zdzieszymski and Skrzypek continue to strive upward with even more plans for their elegant yet welcoming restaurant. According to Zdzieszymski, they would like to gradually stabilize their menu, which is rather large in proportion to the relatively small size of their kitchen and venue. The women hope to figure out the most popular dishes so an emphasis can be placed on them and so that weekend specials—such as potato pancakes with goulash—can be offered.

The women, who are completely open to the idea of hiring Geneseo students, anticipate taking on a full-time cook so that they can dedicate more time to other aspects of their restaurant. While currently open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., they hope to expand these hours to include either Tuesday or Sunday.

The next time you’re in town and hungry for a bite to eat, I highly recommend you dine at this Eastern European eatery and experience authentic cuisine unlike any you’ve ever seen in Geneseo.

Shakti Yoga provides stress-free environment for yogis

A new semester comes with a myriad of stressors for college students. It can be incredibly taxing trying to balance not only academics and social activities, but also budgeting time to take care of one’s own personal health and happiness. Fortunately for Geneseo students, Shakti Yoga studio offers a space to cultivate a positive sense of self. Located right near campus on 2 School St., Shakti Yoga studio was founded by co-owners and directors Angela Caplan ‘74 and adjunct lecturer in dance Jacki McCausland. Caplan said that during both of their times as undergraduates at Geneseo––she studied theater and McCausland studied dance––the two became close friends and sought to open a space to celebrate their shared love for dance.

After opening up the still-running Valley School of Dance at 63 Main St. in 1982, the pair expanded their offerings to include yoga in 1986 with the formation of Shakti Yoga. Caplan said that she first started practicing yoga in college when she assisted a professor in teaching it in a maximum security prison.

“I said, ‘Wow, this is really powerful stuff,’” she said.

Named after the Hindu word for divine feminine energy, Shakti Yoga remained at 63 Main St. until 2004 before permanently moving to its current location in December 2014. Caplan noted that her husband, Barry Caplan––founder of Sundance Books––actually owned the property of the 2 School St. location. When she attended Geneseo, the location was occupied by Gentlemen Jim’s Bar.

Caplan emphasized that the personal benefits gained from yoga are especially important in today’s culture.

“In this day and age, the pace of life is fast. And that’s great––there’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of good stuff going on,” she said. “But how do we pace ourselves in the midst of it all? … Yoga helps us to be centered and to stay calm and quiet within ourselves, and then we can make choices that are nurturing and supportive of what we really want in life.”

For beginning yoga students who feel intimidated by the extremely experienced and flexible “wet noodle” students, Caplan encouraged them to remember that yoga is about embracing one’s own personal physical and psychological journey.

“It’s about finding that the source of your happiness … is inside us. We can be on our mat –– even if it’s crowded and there’s 15-20 mats in here, you’re with yourself,” she said. “Get out of the mindset that you’re competing with anyone, even yourself. You’re just being with yourself––we learn to accept ourselves.”

This idea of self-acceptance and kindness is a crucial cornerstone of the teaching at Shakti Yoga. Caplan encourages her student teachers to teach from that perspective that “we’re a community and we’re here to support each other.”

Addressing the sometimes notoriously expensive nature of yoga classes, Caplan explained that the studio aims to be accommodating, especially to students. Geneseo students receive a 50 percent discount on singular classes, class cards for five or 10 classes or the option of an unlimited semester of classes for $100.

To further encourage students to take time for their personal physical and mental wellbeing, Shakti Yoga will also be offering a new combination yoga and dance class entitled “MOVE” class starting Sept. 16, featuring adjunct instructor of dance studies Deborah Scodese-French ‘85.

“There’s something for everyone,” Caplan said.

Interfaith Center celebrates 50 years of fostering faith, community spirit

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of plans for the Interfaith Center. Situated at the edge of campus on Franklin Street, the non-profit enterprise was founded with the purpose of facilitating spiritual growth and communication within both the college and village communities. Following completion, the center was formally established in 1969 and has proved to be an invaluable local entity ever since. “The founders who got together in 1966 decided they wanted to provide to the school whatever it needs in terms of spiritual development and a place for students of many different callings to study and learn as well as socialize,” Interfaith Center Chair of the Board Kathleen Jones said. She has been Chair for almost three years and considers her work her passion.

With a board of 20 members—comprised of community residents, college faculty, former students and a University Police Department officer—the Interfaith Center works to meet a multitude of needs and it supplements Geneseo’s liberal arts values with a space for spiritual growth and learning, as well as community interaction. The center rents space to several religious groups, as well as non-religious groups like the Livingston County Habitat for Humanity. Such groups hold offices and can use the space to conduct services and meetings.

Welcoming to all, the Interfaith Center embraces involvement from any group or individual. Its main room has a capacity of about 300 and many campus groups as well as private groups from the community at large take advantage of the resource. The center has seen family reunions, birthday parties, sorority and fraternity events, college intercultural groups, religious groups and even atheist and agnostic groups.

The Interfaith Center is not a part of the college, as many believe. Because of separation of church and state legislation, the center receives no government funding. It does, however, apply for available government support through the Whitehouse Interfaith Community Service Campus Initiative. Through this, the Interfaith Center and Geneseo have cooperated to create the Geneseo Interfaith Service Project. This allows the Interfaith Center to host events like the Dialogue Dinners, which embrace both spiritual and social justice topics such as providing food for those who cannot afford it.

Striving to connect with Geneseo as closely as possible, the Interfaith Center even provides a space for a work-study student. Additionally, the center participates in programs such as Volunteers in Service to America and they train students for the respite program, which provides weekly relief to caregivers. The center welcomes the people they care for—generally elderly people—into the building, where the students engage in activities with them and provide meals.

Some campus groups—including the Muslim Student Association and InterVarsity—partner with the center frequently for various events, gatherings and services. The Interfaith Center prides itself on giving such organizations and clubs a large space—one that is capable of meeting their needs for larger crowds. The center also has a full kitchen that is available to any groups who wish to cook their own food for their special occasions.

Another popular initiative the Interfaith Center facilitates is the Tag Sale for Geneseo Gives Back. At the end of each spring semester, bins are placed in dorms for students to donate any belongings they cannot or don’t wish to take home with them. The items are then collected and taken to the center, where they are sorted through and cleaned during the summer, then sold in the Tag Sale in August.

“Instead of students trashing things they can’t take home, we provide a tool for sustainability, recycling the items back to other students or local community members—anybody is welcome to buy them,” Jones said.

Nurturing religious, intercultural and general campus and community groups is an objective the Interfaith Center has undoubtedly accomplished. It hopes to maintain its existing success and to continue to build on it in the future.

“The center is not just a physical place, but a welcoming place where everybody is treated equal and discussion between people and groups is fostered,” Jones said. “We’re here to serve the college and community in both individual and group spiritual journeys.”

Tavern blends classic, modern, serves up welcoming atmosphere

Located at 137 Center Street, The Village Tavern is a favorite bar and restaurant for many. Its presence is embedded not only in the present day culture of the area, but also in Geneseo’s history. The building originally opened in 1821 as a stagecoach shop. In the years following, it transitioned multiple times from private residence to bar and inn. Village Tavern itself will celebrate its fifth year of business in September.

Village Tavern prides itself on creating a space welcoming to all clientele. It’s an environment that caters to anyone, including families, locals, college students and people simply passing through town. Front of House manager Sheena Caito ’11 emphasized the idea that it’s not known as a hangout spot for any specific kind of patron.

“I like the fact that it’s a balance of customers—both locals and residents—because I feel like a lot of places in the area are one or the other,” Caito said. “Our old logo said, ‘Where friends and family come to meet,’ and it’s true. You can come here on any given night and it’s a strong possibility you’ll bump into someone you know.”

Boasting more than 20 taps, Village Tavern is known especially for its craft beers, providing customers with a unique selection of drink. Craft cans and bottles are available as well. “We know a lot about craft beer and we’re very excited about it,” Caito said. “We have a lot of rare and limited stuff and we do beer tastings for customers the first Wednesday of each month.”

New owner Craig Chiara seems to be highly focused on making sure he upholds the traditions of the establishment while also implementing fresh changes, such as the new menu. “[Chiara] is an awesome addition to the business,” Caito said. “He really wanted to add things to the menu based on input from customers and the items they regularly requested.”

According to Caito, the updated menu has proved successful. “We didn’t change the concept of the food selection—it is a tavern after all—we just made some changes and added some things, including healthier options,” she said.

The menu includes appetizers, wings, full entrées, burgers, desserts and more. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments on the new menu, a lot of positive feedback, and I feel we’ve become even busier since releasing it,” Caito said.

While the tavern considers itself more of a craft bar than a sports bar, there is no doubt that it draws a crowd during game days and oftentimes hosts events for big sports occurrences like the Super Bowl. With televisions positioned throughout both the bar and restaurant area, patrons of Village Tavern can eat or drink without missing out on watching their teams.

During warmer months, Village Tavern draws some of its biggest crowds, offering one of the largest outdoor eating areas in Geneseo. “A lot of times in the summer, our entire outdoor seating will be packed, but many customers just arriving would rather wait for a table to open up instead of eating inside or leaving,” Caito said.

Village Tavern has rich links to Geneseo history and gives customers an authentic experience. Students and locals all seem to appreciate its presence and unique craft beer specialty. Employees also seem to have a genuine fondness of the place and management. “I really love my job and I’m not just saying that. I started out part time here to supplement another job and I continued to be offered more and more hours,” Caito said. “I’ve made some great friends; I feel lucky to be working here.”