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Mom and Pop stores

March 31, 2012
Sue Eckhoff - Grundy County Heritage Museum , Reinbeck Courier

Whether you call them country Stores or Mom and Pop stores, they're pretty much the same. There are still a lot of Mom and Pop stores out there, they hide in ordinary places, just waiting for those in search of America those who get off the beaten path for the joy of finding what's out there!

Progress and the interstate system have overtaken the old Mom and Pop stores in many places, but the few remaining ones are still able to give us a glimpse of our past. A simpler life where you would expect to find a country store or Mom and Pop store would I guess depend on your own background. Mostly I picture a Mom and Pop store on a busy street in New York, or some other big city, sometimes called the market, and selling everything city dwellers would need to survive only a short walk from their apartment. However, a country store, I picture as a throwback to the old fashioned general store, Mom and Pop style only older!

Many restaurants have captured some of the spirit of the early Mom and Pop store. Have you ever been to a Cracker Barrel restaurant? They give you the feel of the early country store, but in a more contemporary style.

Mom and Pop stores, or country stores both mean about the same thing. There are those that believe a country store can only be found in the country, and a Mom and Pop in their mind are typified by the corner market in Jersey! Growing up I had my own experiences with a Mom and Pop store or country store if you will located beside the Hartwick Bridge at Lake Delhi it was all that a country store should be. Tons of penny candy, bomb pops, icy cold pop, needed grocery items that the parents forgot to pack for the weekend, and even greasy hamburgers! It was quite a place.

There's also the Mom and Pop store vs. the big box store argument. In Mom and Pop stores you get a more personal shopping experience. That's logical. They're smaller and locally owned. The advantage is that you get help when you need it instead of waiting around looking confused. Employees usually offer better customer service. The disadvantage being there's less of a selection than big box stores. The hours are more restrictive, and they simply aren't able to carry the volume of merchandise. The disadvantage to a big box store to many is the crowds. (Ever been to a big box store at 5 a.m. on Black Friday?) Many say it's too difficult to get help, for the most part they feel the employees don't care if you're there or not and finally many people believe they force out smaller businesses, which is never a good thing.

A good country store sold virtually everything from textiles to food to feed and toys. You name it; the country store was the source. The evolution of the country store to the specialty store has been slow. Not everybody wants a specialty store, thus then you find a good country store or Mom and Pop store they are a source of incredible variety of display vehicles, cases, counters and containers. The search for these treasure stores can take you to many interesting places both on and off the beaten track. Unfortunately the very best place to find country store collectibles is the closing out auction of an old store.

There are still lots of fun old stores out there if you take the time to look. Stores that may still have a soda fountain where you can get an original green river, or find Beeman's Black Jack gum or Clark's Teaberry gum. But you have to have a sense of adventure, and not be afraid to get off the beaten path!



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