I’ve been thinking about “general stores” of the present and past lately. The store near me where I have been used to finding most things I needed from cat supplies to printer ink has closed.
Finding a new source for things I found there hasn’t been that easy. There isn’t any “one stop shop” around any more.
Online shopping is stealing away our brick and mortar stores, one after another.
That fact reminded me of a story told and retold about the General Store in Wabash, Nebraska, years ago.
At that time Sherm Hardaway’s store in that little village took care of many community needs from the local post office to groceries and farming utensils.
The story goes like this. A local farmer came into Sherm’s store and wanted a new axe. He was armed with the latest Sears and Roebuck catalog.
Sherm quoted him a price for the axe and the customer turned to the proper page in the catalog and pointed out to him that the same axe was two dollars cheaper!
“Well, on second thought, I’ll sell it to you for that price,” Sherm told him as he picked up the axe and hung it back on the wall. “Wait,” the customer told him “I’ll take it with me.”
Sherm replied, “Oh, no —for the same price, it will take three days for the order to get there, a day for them to fill it and three days to get it here—and then, we’ll put on the dollar and a quarter for mailing it. Come back next week and you can take the axe.”
I have read different versions of that story, told as a joke.
That clues me in on the fact that it could have been tailored to fit the local scene!
Our “online” shopping in the 30’s came in the form of wonderful wish books from Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery and Ward.
Kind of makes me wonder what will take the place of Amazon in a few decades? In our not-so-fantasy world we already have deliveries by drones.
Back to general stores once more. I think one of our Lincoln gas stations could almost fit that situation.
I started going there because they are one of the few places in town that will “pump” your gas. That is a pretty good drawing card when it is cold and snowy.
They also offer a lot of other services. There is a car wash. An ATM, You can have your dog washed and groomed.
Another sign states they will trim your trees and a food truck is parked there stating it can serve any gathering you are planning.
So far, I have only used the car wash and had them fill my car, but all of the other offerings are certainly tempting!
One thing is certain, everything changes. Nothing stays the same and change is always chalked up to “progress.”
Maybe we will just turn the page backward in time. The old might just become new again if we wait long enough.
Sherm—where are you when the world really needs you?
I know the USDA inspector wouldn’t have approved of your cat sitting on the butcher block where you sliced that great cold meat no one else stocked.
As far as I know, no one got sick from anything you sold and the memories of that time are worth a million dollars.