15 Photos Inside the General Stores of Early 20th Century

This American institution has all but faded from memory.

You could find a little bit of everything in a old-fashioned general store, from tea to coffee to suspenders, including all manner of special order items. Even into the 20th century, general stores in many areas remained an important community asset, not only for the goods they provided, but also as a gathering place. A large stove centrally located in the shop would often serve as a meeting spot for folks to gather and talk or to play checkers. General stores are hard to find today, but these old photos bring the past back into focus.

General store in Nevada, 1898. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Arkansas, 1936. Via/ Library of Congress
Florida general store in the 1950s. Via/ Flickr
Turn of the century general store in Maryland. Via/ Library of Congress
General store, pre-Depression era. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Arkansas, 1936. Via/ Library of Congress
Turn of the century general store in Florida. Via/ Flickr

General stores were an important part of local society back in those days and folks treated it as such, with courtesy being a fundamental guide to how they did business. Pioneers and farmers depended on trading posts and general stores to see them through, often using credit for the first year until they had some crops and livestock to sell. General stores were still lifelines in many communities until after World War II.

Florida general store, 1920. Via/ Flickr
General store in North Carolina, 1910s. Via/ Flickr
General store in Montana, 1939. Notice the kitten on the counter. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Louisiana, 1938. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Louisiana, 1939, where coffee is being ground for a customer. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Vermont, 1940. Via/ Library of Congress
General store in Alabama, 1936 Via/ Library of Congress
General store in the Bronx, NYC, in 1935. Via/ NYPL

General stores may be all but extinct, but once upon a time they were essential to small towns and big cities alike. This quaint part of American life may be largely gone, but it is not forgotten!