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General Stores: the Heart of our Community

Sometimes it feels as though we are headed towards a world where human beings will have no need to interact.  Already we can text instead of talk, follow the orders of our GPS instead of ask directions, buy anything we could possibly need online including groceries, and even graduate from college without ever setting a foot on campus.

General, country, or village stores on the South Coast have always been places where you could go to pick up something you need, catch up on community happenings, and connect with your neighbors all in the same trip.  When’s the last time you stopped in the aisle of Target just to chit-chat or dropped by Wal-mart to find out if there was anything exciting going on this weekend?  There are now drive-thrus for everything from burgers to antibiotics and box stores around every corner.  Despite such competition, general stores are still alive on the South Coast.  Drop in and see what makes them so special.

General stores like Davoll’s General Store on Russell’s Mills Road in Dartmouth are a living piece Americana.  One of the oldest general stores in the United States, Davoll’s has been in business since 1793.  Yes, your math skills are as sharp as ever…that’s two hundred and twenty years old!  Visit to see their collection of Byer’s Choice Carolers and Possible Dreams figurines.

Like many general stores, the Head Town Landing Store at the head of the Westport River sells coffee, pastries, pre-made sandwiches and other convenience foods.  They also still sell “penny candy” like it was 1905!  It cost more than a penny now but the cool retro factor makes it worth every cent.  Grab some lunch and licorice then float down the Westport River with a kayak from Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures just across the street.

Years ago, general stores were known for serving as the social and information hub of the town.  The Old Company Store on Elm Street in Wareham keeps this tradition alive with their commitment to community.  Check out their website to read about how they support their city through PTA fundraisers, bake sales for animal shelters, food and toy drives.  The Town Wharf General Store on Water Street in Mattapoisett supports the local community by featuring books by local authors like their newly displayed cookbook, “Hot Sauce!” by Mattapoisett resident Jennifer Trainer Thompson. They also bring unique specialty products from afar back to the South Coast for us to enjoy like Nova Scotia Fishermen Extreme Skin Care and Sailwinds Windjammer bracelets from Maine.  Think about a visit to a general store this holiday shopping season!

Of course, general stores have to make some efforts to keep up with the times while holding onto their character.  Like many general stores, Partner’s Village Store on Main Road in Westport sells gifts, books, stationary, toys, and food.  Like many, they also offer online shopping.  However, you can’t smell the baking bread and simmering soup, flip through the pages in their independent book store, or meet your neighbors if you limit your interchange to online shopping.  After you log in…get out there and meet these remarkable retailers in person!

General stores are closing all across America.  I’m not suggesting you forego your regular Target runs.  Just consider opening your shopping habits to include your local general store.  Get to know them and get to know a piece of your history.

About the Author

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Angela Boffi
I’ve lived on the South Coast for over 20 years and still enjoy exploring its depths. There is always something new to experience or a new way to enjoy my old favorites. When we change the way we see the world, the world we see at changes. Writing about my endless South Coast adventures allows me to enjoy them long after they have ended and to connect with you, my fellow explorers. When I’m not exploring and writing about my own backyard, I advise GED and ESOL students on their education and career plans and am completing my Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. My favorite South Coast adventures usually involve food, nature, and a little more food.

 

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Partners Village Store


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Head Town Landing Country Store


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