Part businessman, part accountant, lawyer, news-bringer and politician, the general storekeeper is one of the most important people in the village. Villages often grow around general stores because farmers and craftsmen need the goods and services that storekeepers supply.
VILLAGE BUILDINGS
Blacksmith's Workshop
Blacksmith's Workshop

 
Church
Church

 
General Store
General Store

 
Weaver's Home
Weaver's Home

 
Shoemaker's Workshop
Shoemaker's Workshop


Post Office
Post Office

 
Tinsmith's Workshop
Tinsmith's Workshop

 
Farmhouse
Farmhouse

 
Joiner's Workshop
Joiner's Workshop

 
Schoolhouse
Schoolhouse

 
IN THE GENERAL STORE

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the general store is central to business and life in many communities. Here, farmers and villagers purchase food and manufactured goods that are not otherwise available – hardware and tools, furnishings, textiles and clothing, medicines, groceries, jewelry and candy. Shelves and showcases teem with goods. The scents of spices, coffee, fruit and cheese mingle with the odour of kerosene and cod liver oil.

General storekeepers act as the middlemen between traveling salesmen or other urban wholesalers and customers. Sometimes shoppers haggle over the price of items to save a few cents. Many rural people buy on credit and keep an account open at the general store. At the end of the fall, farm families might purchase winter staples such as flour, peas, sugar and beans and agree to pay in the springtime with money raised from logging or the new crop of maple syrup. They might even pay the following summer or fall with vegetables from the garden or meat from slaughtered animals. Occasionally, farmers have to trade property or livestock to pay off their debts with the store.

The general store is also an important meeting place for the community. Men, women and children gather at the store to chat with each other and with the storekeeper. In summer, people sit outdoors on benches, while in the winter, men congregate around the wood stove, playing checkers, telling stories, or arguing about politics.

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    Date created: May 13, 2008 | Last updated: June 30, 2010