Sometimes people ask me where I shop. We’re lucky in our little town that we have a store. Our little town is something of a hub for the surrounding rural areas. (Notice me call our town a hub totally seriously.) We have a little store, a post office, a k-8th school, a volunteer fire department, a one-room library, a couple of tiny churches, a bank, and a community building. We have no stoplights, restaurants, or other shopping. Our town is the epitome of the wide spot in the road.
You won’t wear yourself out walking around the store. Inside, there are five aisles where you can buy a little of everything as long as you don’t expect a big selection of anything. And I do mean a little of everything. Need a little ammunition with your eggs? No problem.
In our little store you can buy all the ordinary grocery items like milk and chicken and potato chips, but you can also buy wood-carved porch furniture, buck stoves, and ATVs. You can rent movies and check game. In the spring you can buy bunnies and chicks. (I love going to the little store in the spring!)
Off the back, there is a connected building where they sell all the high-testosterone stuff. Farm equipment and tools, paint, electrical and plumbing parts, automotive supplies, feed and seed, propane and straw. You can get there without going back outside through a secret door inside the main store. I figured that out after I’d lived here about six months. You actually go through an employee stocking area, but in the little store in our little town, they let you do stuff like that. They know where you live.
The little store is also what constitutes our only fast food in town. There is a deli counter in the back where you can get sliced meats and cheeses, but you can also buy short-order items like pizza, tacos and burritos, and hamburgers. They have a couple tables and chairs and often you’ll find groups sitting there, chatting, sometimes drinking coffee. (Yes, there is also a “coffee bar” near the front where you can self-serve coffee.)
I can hardly get out the door to the little store if my kids are home because they love to come with me. The little store sells toys and candy and waffle cones from the deli counter.
Upstairs, they sell antiques and country crafts–if you know where to turn the light on when you go up there. The little store is also the center of town gossip, and everyone knows your name.
It’s a real country store. A general store. Who knew such a thing still existed? Sometimes I hear people say, “Things cost more at the little store. I’d rather drive to Spencer and go to Wal-Mart.” But you don’t hear that often. Most people say–“If we don’t support our little store, we won’t have a little store. Then we’ll have to drive to Spencer for everything.”
And that would be not just inconvenient but sad. Our little store is a piece of vanishing rural America.
When I want a bag of flour, a baby bunny, a waffle cone, some motor oil, corn seeds, and all the latest gossip from the clerk, I want to know where I can get it all in one place. That place is a little store in town where everybody knows my name.