Country Stores Evoke a Touch of Americana

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I share an affinity with country stores, no matter where I may find them.

Just as I would brake for yard sales in the midst of nowhere, I would do the same for a country store that may cross my path. They’re quaint, charming, and mystifying.

I cannot resist a dash of American pie and Norman Rockwell. I am attracted to the nostalgia that lies within. What’s there not to like about the quaint old-fashioned feeling, the chance to shop for hard-to-find items, the aroma of candles and soaps, and the delicious offerings of local products, fudge, and maple syrup.

Norman Rockwell’s ‘Thanksgiving Pie’ was on the cover of Country Gentleman in 1930.

Keep your mega-department stores. Don’t try and talk me into a supermarket that sells refrigerators and never closes. If I wanted a pharmacy, I would visit a drug store, if I could find one. I know, this is the age of diversity and multi-tasking.

I look for peace and tranquility when I visit a store. If I can find a country store in the city, all the better. But more often than not, I find them on the road to nowhere—far removed from society and waiting to greet your entrance.

Such a moment came one early morning while vacationing at Cape Cod. The family was still asleep when I made my way from the house to the street below. Time for a brisk walk before breakfast in a strange town that knew no further identification.

As I walked, the beauty of a New England Cape Cod town hit me. People greeted me as I walked by. Birds joined in a songfest. A cyclist or two wished me a “good morning.” I felt like part of the landscape and happy to be there.

A mile into my walk, there it was, an oasis in my desert: a country store! My curiosity drew me inside like a magnet to a nail bin. I took a step back in time.

Inside, the art of browsing became a science. Everywhere I looked, my hands were sure to follow. I even discovered a packet of clothespins that were supposedly extinct—the ones you squeeze with a spring. I have found smaller varieties that were inferior. These were just like the kind my mother and grandmother used to hang on a clothesline. I use them at my lake house.

I stacked up on some comic books, a Duncan yo-yo I used as a kid, a couple games I enjoyed as a kid like paddle ball, a cap pistol, and some of the best marbles you ever saw. I was back in the 1940’s—all here inside an unsuspecting emporium.

I’ve been to many of these outlets during my travels and have found the best bakery items from town folks, jams and jellies made locally, and all kinds of trivia that add a personal glow to your day.

I grabbed a coffee and freshly baked blueberry muffin, then settled outside on a bench with other locals. They checked me out. I did the same.

“You new in town?” said one.

“Naw, just passing through. Nice community you have here,” I shot back.

“We like it here. Many of us grew up in town. Known each other since we were kids.”

Everything centers around this country store, whether it’s politics, sports, current events, or news waiting to happen. Tomorrow would be another day, another topic of discussion.

“I have a question. You come here often?” I asked the group.

“Just about every morning first thing,” another responded. “I’m Al. Meet Abe. That’s Richard over there. Sal will be along shortly. He’s usually last.”

They had the attendance order down pat. They drank their coffee and had the daily paper in hand that was reserved for them at the desk.

This was one general store on one particular day. Others have cultivated my life over time and travel. Let me mention them.

One of my favorite stops is Zeb’s in North Conway, N.H. What looks like “organized clutter” turns out to be a very systematic approach to inventory. I was told once there were more than 5,000 items up for grabs.

The bread & butter pickles were the best around, not to mention their preserves and fudge.

Another that has caught my attention on a day trip is the Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vt. I’m a sucker for penny candy, even though it costs me good ‘n plenty more.

At a time when stress and anxiety is getting us down, along comes a country store that brings back warm childhood memories and a sense of relief. Proves one conclusive theory: The good old days would not be so “old” if more people relived them.

I tend to be one of them.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Country Stores Evoke a Touch of Americana