A Brief History of the General Store

The general store has been a central part of American business since the Colonial period. They often became the central and most important part of a town. They gave the town residents a place to gather to buy goods and trade news and stories, and sometimes the general store also doubled as a post office. For families that did not live in town, a visit to the general store was a big deal and social event. As a general store in Central PA, we thought we would take the time to give you a brief rundown of the history of general stores and why they are such an important part of American history.

The general store came about during the Colonial times when traveling peddlers started to establish permanent locations after they gained enough money and inventory to do so. They would put their stores in the middle of settlements, crossroads or areas that were starting to grow in population. Most of the time, the general store would be the first business for that area.

The store would usually have just about everything a person in that time period would want to buy. Items ranged from clothing for men and women to tobacco, ropes, tack for horses, food, tools, dishes, medicine, soap and more. These items from the general store were often seen as luxuries for families, especially poorer families.

The layout of a general store was usually the same from store to store. The main floor would be the store itself, and there would usually be a stove of some sort for the townspeople to gather around. The upper floor of the general store was where the merchants would store goods and other supplies. Sometimes, the second floor would also include the store owner’s home or living area.

When the store owner would get new merchandise (either from traveling salesmen or, when the railroads expanded, from the rail lines), this would sometimes become a social event for the townspeople, who wanted to see the new stock the general store just received.

As you can see, the general store has a rich history and was an integral part of this country’s history and growth.

So when you want to visit a general store in Central PA, come to Hilsher’s General Store and browse through our selection! We are located on Routes 11/15. Or you can call 570-374-1550 or you can Contact Us.

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