It is Wednesday morning in West Tisbury and the sun streams out of a cloudless September sky, spilling through the front door of Alley’s General Store and flooding the old, worn floorboards with a warm, golden light. Out on the front porch a group of oldtimers stand amid stacks of pumpkins, drinking their morning coffee and holding court. Owen Ware, age two and a half, stands nearby, a half-eaten bag of M&Ms clutched in his left fist. A familiar up-Island resident pulls up in his car and Owen lifts a small hand in greeting. “Hi Ted!” he calls out. Ted returns the salutation.

Welcome to the new Alley’s General Store, once again the renowned Dealers in Almost Everything in the heart of West Tisbury. It is a new-age general store, a place where old floors set off sturdy new open country cabinets painted in old-fashioned colors of dark green and cream. It is a place where you can have a postal box, where you can buy local eggs and pizza paddles, doormats and switch plate covers, fly swatters and leather boots, The New York Times and Parcheesi, extra virgin olive oil and Oreos - but not cigarettes. It is a place where old meets new in nearly seamless fashion - a little like Owen and the old-timers.

“We are running a general store in the ‘90s,” says Debby Ware, and the statement is as much a remark of self-reflection as it is a declaration of fact.

Debby, her sister Emily Milstein and their husbands Will Ware and Vic Spelman are the new proprietors of Alley’s. The four partners reopened the old general store in July, midway through the hectic summer season, and now that it’s mid-September they are at last getting time to unwind and get out on that celebrated old porch — well, at least for a few minutes.

“We went from zero to 60 last summer and we are still catching our breath,” begins Debby and Emily finishes the sentence for her: “I think it is all still a blur,” she laughs.

It is a unique partnership — both among the four new proprietors and with the owners of the building. Two years ago the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust announced it would buy and restore Alley’s with the mission of preserving the institution which has sat in the rural agricultural heart of the Vineyard since 1858. After a formidable capital campaign, the trust bought Alley’s and spent the better part of last year doing a massive restoration of the building.

The new owners of Alley’s have been caught in some understandable confusion about their relationship with the tryst — they own the business and all of its parts save the building; they pay rent for the space and are not subsidized in any way by the trust.

But their mission is of course identical with that of the trust — to run the oldest continuously operating retail store on the Vineyard as a viable business.

“We are not a boutique; we are a real business,” says Will, and Emily adds: “Now we are beginning to see the same faces every day, and I think Alley’s is being used the way it used to be used.” As the four talk, the old-timers conclude their morning ritual on the porch. Owen continues to work on his bag of M&Ms.

It was a difficult beginning, all four agree. The stress of the startup, buying, stocking, finding suitable suppliers for the hundreds of individual items to be sold, debating the philosophies of retail as it applies to hardware, paint, penny candy, garden tools and tobacco (in the end they decided not to sell cigarettes).

“There was no book to go to, to say how to do this, and we realized that when we set out,” says Emily.

But each member of the group also came to the job with some relevant skill — Emily and Debby both have long retail experience (Debby is a former owner of Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven); Will is a longtime carpenter with much knowledge about hardware; Vic is the general businessman in the group and talks about things like high-expense, low-margin business.

It is a combination that works.

“We don’t seem to bother each other too much,” says Debby, and the others not in agreement.

In fact there is a careful division of labor which is apparent during a trip to the upstairs office, a large and sunny room with two long tables divided into four computer work stations. Emily and Debby handle all the grocery and housewares, Will is in charge of the hardware and Vic does all the billing. “We do a lot of things to make sure this business survives,” says Vic, gesturing to the new computers which have replaced the traditional ledgers of the old general store.

“But we all make keys,” laughs Debby.

The store itself is a wonderful ‘90s version of old Alley’s — clean, bright and airy but still jammed with organized clutter. There are pillows and white cotton linens, glassware and votive candles, Halloween cookie cutters and ironing boards, flashlights and shoplights, magazines, toys and hand-cranked apple peelers and corers. There is local produce, Mazola oil and Colavita olive oil, Heinz vinegar and balsamic vinegar, Perdue chicken and Bell and Evans organically grown chicken.

“We are not trying to be a place for people to do their weekly shopping, but at least there is enough to make dinner and that is what happens at a quarter of seven at night,” says Debby.

The store is open from 7a.m. to 7p.m. daily and the same hours will continue throughout the winter with possibly some slight change on Sundays.

Meanwhile, as the four proprietors talk to a newspaper reporter, a woman stops on the porch on her way out the door. “You have the greatest things in there,” she declares. “I came in just to get my mail and I came out with this,” she says, pointing to a small toy and a cookie cutter.

It is a common exchange. Will recalls another: “One woman came in and she said, ‘I am so excited, not only do I not have to go off-Island to do my Christmas shopping, now I don’t even have to go down-Island!’”

Now the four look forward to off-season at Alley’s: There is a woos stove inside all ready for hookup, a cozy place for the regulars when cold weather forces them in off the porch.

“We want to make a living here but we also love our connection to the neighborhood,” says Vic.

Debby concludes: “After all the grass roots campaign to save this business we hope it does last another 100 years and we hope that people will support it....” Emily finishes her sentence. “We hope people will support it, not just because they want to support it but because we have made it into a business they would use.”