EVERYWHERE — How general were general stores in the country? Put it this way: they sold everything from tinned milk (for a baby without someone to nurse it) to coffins (for your late loved one) …
EVERYWHERE — How general were general stores in the country?
Put it this way: they sold everything from tinned milk (for a baby without someone to nurse it) to coffins (for your late loved one) if there wasn’t an undertaker handy.
Flour. Nails. Kerosene. Fabric. Seeds. Animal feed.
Food is a no-brainer; the store sold anything that couldn’t be grown or raised by a farming family—and sometimes it sold farmers' extra produce. You could get baking supplies: flour and cornmeal, leaveners such as pearlash or saleratus, sugar—plus the tins in which to bake the goods.
You could buy other families’ extras, such as vegetables or cheese that the store would purchase—or take in trade—and sell.
General stores fed your caffeine habit (tea and coffee), your tobacco habit and your candy habit.
There were candles for those who didn’t make them, and kerosene for lamps.
Toys, sure: dolls, paper toys, games and puzzles for the kids.
If you needed fabric, the store had it. (You might not like the color or the style; too bad.) Or maybe your old collars and cuffs were disgusting, and you needed new ones—they were there. Thread, buttons, hooks and eyes—all could be had for a price.
Of course, you were limited to what was on hand. There wasn’t much in the way of package delivery for decades, so catalog shopping was late to the game. Ladies’ magazines might show how the other, upper half lived but you hadn’t a prayer of buying something fancy if the general store didn’t stock it and the storekeeper didn’t order it.
Short of a trip to a city, anyway.
It was a different time. But thanks to the internet, you can take a look at actual general-store items from the 19th century at thehenryford.org.
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