Thursday, April 26, 2007

CLOSED




The smell of the country store is not chemically defined nor is it from a single element on any shelf. It is an admixture of so many little things which live in the atmosphere of such places. As we roll down the long roads we like to stop and smell the country stores along the way.

A convenience store is business owned by someone else who lives many miles, perhaps states away and staffed by a clerk who is overworked, underpaid and incapable of telling you how to get there from here. It's a throbbing enterprise which depends upon a high volume of lazy impulse buyers who constantly flow past the point at which the building was inserted after considerable market research. It matters not how you are treated because there's a long line of others behind you who don't care. When did anyone ever pull up to some such place and feel sentimental?

If you're the clerk in a true country store you may well be the owner or at least their blood or kin by marriage. Whoever left the property to you probably did not leave you with a mortgage, but with considerable history in and some obligation to the community. You see more old faces than new. So, if you have an actual country store like our friends on Hwy. 176 near the Sandridge Community at the northwestern end of Berkeley County, why not just call it THE COUNTRY STORE?

The pictures above are of The Country Store, the interior of the place and a picture our old friend John before his recent stroke. We've been stopping here for years and have come to know John and his wife and little bits of their history and that of the store. We always get a broad smile and an immediate report on the boiled peanut situation. They sell buttons and mercerized thread, Magic Shaving Powder and Citrate of Magnesia (none for us, thanks), hunks of cheese cut from a large red waxed wheel and old fashioned candies no longer found in the outside world. That store's been a part of almost every day trip we take up that way and it's been a reminder of the charm and courtesy which is so scarce in today's wretched retail experience.

We found the store closed several weekends in a row with no sign of explanation. We knew they weren't on a cruise nor were they likely to be on a gambling junket in Vegas. They went down to the store everyday so we worried a great deal. Last weekend we saw the folks and learned why. We're more than a little sad about all this, but at least there's hope for improvement maybe even recovery. For now, the store is closed. Those folks and their store have come to mean a lot to us. We cannot spare them.

When's the last time you passed a convenience store and wondered how their folks were doing?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I just want to see the Mom and Pop stores stay alive. The country store is a culture that needs to stay. My grandfather ran a country store. He was the counselor, mentor, weatherman, father figure, and good friend for so many. Do you get any of that at Wal-Mart?

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

These stores and the folks who own them are treasures !

10:25 AM  

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