Sunday, July 29, 2012

224-year-old Rhode Island General Store Closing

This post is a rarity for me, for I am going to reprint an entire news article as I found it from www.boston.com. I found this to be very sad...

 This Friday, July 27, 2012 photo shows the exterior of Gray's in Adamsville village in Little Compton, R.I. After more than 200 years, the nation's oldest general store is about to close. Gray's store in the Adamsville village in Little Compton opened in 1788 and has been in continuous operation ever since. It's set to close on Sunday. Owner Jonah Waite inherited the store after his father died last month, but the 21-year-old senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut is more intent on becoming a sports journalist. He says the store's finances aren't sustainable, and he's considering selling the property where he grew up.(AP Photo/The Providence Journal, Mary Murphy)


                     
              This Friday, July 27, 2012 photo shows the exterior of Gray's in Adamsville village in Little Compton, R.I. After more than 200 years, the nation's oldest general store is about to close.  Gray's store in the Adamsville village in Little Compton opened in 1788 and has been in continuous operation ever since. It's set to close on Sunday. Owner Jonah Waite inherited the store after his father died last month, but the 21-year-old senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut is more intent on becoming a sports journalist. He says the store's finances aren't sustainable, and he's considering selling the property where he grew up.(AP Photo/The Providence Journal, Mary Murphy)

AP  / July 28, 2012

LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. (AP) — Gray’s Store in Adamsville village brought in customers for years with its old-fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnny cakes.
The 224-year-old business may be the oldest operating general store in America, although others have staked similar claims. The Rhode Island store near the Massachusetts line opened in 1788. Now owners say this year is its last.
Gray’s is set to close Sunday afternoon.
Owner Jonah Waite inherited the shop after his father died of cancer last month. He said Saturday it was a hard decision to close the store and leave behind all the history, but the shop’s finances aren’t sustainable and a supermarket down the street has siphoned away business.
Waite, 21, who will be a senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut in the fall, also is consumed with pursuing a career in sports journalism.
‘‘Obviously, I understand the historical aspect of it, and I would really love to keep it the way it is, but it doesn’t seem to me that that’s the most feasible option,’’ Waite said. ‘‘With the economy ... the place has lost its attraction, lost its luster.’’
Waite said he’s not sure yet if he will keep the property or try to sell it.
The shop features general store standards like penny candy and a small selection of groceries, as well as antiques and collectible knickknacks. It’s been in Waite’s family for seven generations, since 1879, and comprises the front part of the family’s home.
He said his father, Grayton Waite, who was 59 when he died June 11, enjoyed selling cigars and candy. His great grandfather owned the store in the early 1900s and ran a gristmill to make his own corn meal that he sold in the store.
In 2007, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and then-Gov. Donald Carcieri issued proclamations naming Gray’s as the oldest continuously run general store in the country.
More customers than usual have been gathering at Gray’s in recent days to say farewell and share memories, Waite said.
Bob Wordell, a mechanic down the street, remembers gathering at the store in the summer with his friends when he was a child years ago.
‘‘We'd eat freeze pops on the front steps,’’ Wordell told The Providence Journal. ‘‘I think they cost a nickel.’’
Waite said it’s been hard dealing with the store and coping with his father’s death at such a young age. But he believes his father would support what he’s doing. He said his father intended to sell the property after he got sick to pay medical bills and retire.
‘‘He’s trusting that I'll do the right thing and what’s best for me,’’ Waite said.

I don't know...I think it's rather selfish of the 21 year old to not follow his father's wishes after only a month from his father's death. He really didn't even try to sell it (at least the article doesn't state that he did). He doesn't understand the importance of history and of keeping the past alive. Yes, he wants to do his thing, and that's understandable, but, my gosh, at least allow someone else an opportunity - maybe they can think outside the box and make this general store one that people would flock to see. Heck, just by dressing and speaking in a colonial manner would keep a flow going.
Ahhh, but who am I...just one who feels that history should be preserved...

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3 comments:

GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Ken,
I saw that on the news earlier today and it broke my heart also. How sad to see something that has been kept in the same family for so long be sold off. Maybe another family member will come forward and take over. One can only hope. Gina

PvtSam75 said...

I agree, I think he should (or should have) tried harder to find a new owner for the store. At the right price, I would have taken it! Just because he wants to be a sports journalist doesn't mean he can't run the store on the side. Let's hope someone steps forward to take over!

An Historical Lady said...

Hi Ken,
Sad indeed... I don't think this store is the oldest, however---On a happier note, the "old country store" in Moultonboro NH has been operating continuously since 1781!

(http://www.nhcountrystore.com/)

Only a short drive from us on leafy and stone-wall-lined backroads, it's where we go for the reproduction rosehead nails we seem to use endlessly! It's a wonderful place where you can find everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, and "all things New England" from candles and maple products to flannel p.j.'s with a 'moose motif'! We sure hope it's around for many more years to come!

Mary
http://anhistoricallady.blogspot.com