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American general store

New world exhibit: Map location 25-29

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American general store

The heartbeat of life in early America.

The General Store was an essential part of American life as settlers fought to build communities and livelihoods in isolated parts of their new homeland.

Shopping was different in those days and the General Store was more than just a shop. It was a lifeline to families and businesses trying to make their way in often hostile conditions, supplying goods of all descriptions including coffee, tea, molasses, maple sugar, tobacco ploughs, scythes, baskets cooking utensils, fabrics, ribbons, buttons, thread, needles and tape.

The General Store also often provided a market for local produce such as bacon, eggs, chickens, flaxseed, dried apples and buckwheat flour which farmers could exchange for items they needed.

It was also a source of long-term credit. People settled their accounts once a year when the harvest was over, coming into town to renew commercial relationships, build new ones and catch up with friends and neighbours.

It is easy to imagine how the General Store became a place of huge importance not only for basic survival, but also for the exchange of information, news, gossip and stories and a vital source of community spirit for the growing emigrant population.

Have a look at the wide range of goods on display in the general store. There were many miscellaneous items for sale in the general store, from footwear and books to candles and gunpowder..