NORTH SALEM -- The Short Cut Store that closed last fall will come back better than ever, new owner Sally Arnold said recently.

Arnold, who owns Sally's Hilltop Store about five miles north of the Short Cut, recently purchased the Short Cut Store with plans to reopen it in 2014, once structural repairs are completed. She's projected that the store would reopen in April.

"It will have a bigger inventory as well as different products," she said.

Improvements on tap include a walk-in "beer cave" of about 450 square feet, an ice cream shop, a pizzeria and a full-sized delicatessen.

"We're going to busy because I need everything to be ready as soon as I open," she said.

Arnold is no stranger to the general store business, having bought and expanded the Hilltop.

"I opened Hilltop in May 2007 and I doubled it in size," she said. "Every year, I get busier."

At the Short Cut, "I will finally have enough room to do the stuff I wanted to do here."

But Arnold does not intend to close Hilltop. She believes the two stores are just far enough apart that each can continue to be of service to their respective clienteles. Indeed, she believes that each will draw an even greater number of patrons.

Arnold "grew up just down the road" from the Hilltop. She went away to college to study business and accounting.

After graduation, she landed a job with International House of Pancakes as a corporate trainer. Her job was to lead a team into a newly opened IHOP to train the staff. They also supplemented the staff for two months after the opening just to make sure the restaurant had solid footing as the regular staff not only learned the ropes, but became comfortable with them.

She was based in Glendale, Calif. but was constantly going to different communities where she would remain for periods of six months to a year.

After being away for 12 years, she decided it was time to come home. In one retrospect, the decision seemed almost fated.

"Within a week of coming home, the Hilltop went up for auction," she said. "And I bought it."