The Loss of Country Stores

An altogether too brief article on country stores.  #

4 Responses to “The Loss of Country Stores”

  • No one wants to take the little stores over when the old timers retire and die.

    When I lived in Alberene in the 70s there were no less than 4 country stores within 4 miles, barely earning a living. Only one out on Rt. 20 at Rt 712 had a PO. He’s the only one still running.

    We hung out at each of them to chew the fat. Those without a PO all closed in the same decade, 1977-87, and nearly all the people involved are dead now.

    Farewell Leroy Rhodes, who earned a good living studying the WSJ and betting on stocks; Lucille Purvis; Ed Goff; no-name Ed who ran Janie Coles’s Round Store that once was a merry-go-round; Henry, who took over after Ed, then sold out and went to California in my crimson ’66 de Ville and now runs a restaurant in the glass Milgraum Building; and the Thomases whose store closed in 1935, 40 years before I bought it and “Sweet 17 in Alberene” and settled in to farmette.

    We grew Xmas trees to give away at a huge party every December.

    It shouldn’t miss mention that there was an electronics inventer in the 60s named Matacek who, when no city would buy his black box to coordinate hundreds of traffic lights, decided he could make country stores work.

    He would organize them and bring them under the IGA umbrella, so they could buy wholesale and compete with the big guys.

    He bought the venerable Greenwood Country Store as his base of operations, but his store and the idea failed. No one in that business could afford the initial investment, and the banks wouldn’t take a chance.

    Last I heard, he failed at another business, selling custom slaughtered beef from Bundoran Farm. Terrific beef, but costly.

    Of course Sam’s Club now serves the purpose of IGA to stock the few country stores we have left, and at far lower prices than IGA could offer.

  • Maupin’s, in Free Union, is still open, and doing a decent business. (Della Maupin died just over two years ago now, though Kemper is alive, and their son Mike runs the store.) I used to go there as a kid, living in Free Union. But the Maupin’s out on Airport Road long ago closed. Grand Junction (née Bobbi’s, née Bell’s) is still open in Stony Point, but after Bobbi sold it a few years ago, the new owner has turned it into a kind of a foo-foo place—it’s really not a country store anymore. Amazingly, both of the stores in White Hall are alive and well, as they have been for as long as I’ve been around. There used to be place I’d bike to up around Boonesville, but I haven’t been down that road since about 1994, and I’ve got no idea if that’s still in business.

  • Cismont still has a store or two in operation.

    The North Garden store on Rt 29 erupted into a mini-mall that last time I visited, was way better than one would expect. Local produce, local pastry chef, talented, personable short order cook.

    Page’s store in Batesville was the center of a lively village and was doing ok. Then the local population grew, business was brisk, and they closed the store. Maybe someone knows why.

    The stone gas station between Monticello and Ash Lawn slid upscale a few years ago but is too small to be considered a full-scale country store.

  • There used to be place I’d bike to up around Boonesville, but I haven’t been down that road since about 1994, and I’ve got no idea if that’s still in business.

    I think you’re referring to the old store run by Mrs. Davis, near the corner of 601 and 810. I think she had been one of the first postmistresses in the US, having taken over the role when her husband died. (I never met him.) She told me that the two of them had run off as kids to join a carnival, just to be together.

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