Mom and Pop Stores I Miss Them
Small Family Owned Stores Now History
As a youngster growing up in a cotton mill village in a rural area of our state I have many memories of the mom and pop stores. Although our community population numbered less than 1000, we had several mom and pop stores and gas stations. Of course the cotton mill provided a community store which by far served the greater needs of our community, the mom and pop stores were still a viable part of our economy catering to the needs of the people who lived in our area.
These family owned businesses were more than an entrepreneurial venture but served as places where folks could stop in to catch up on local news and events. All have long ago disappeared from the landscape but the memories created in a child's mind linger in moments of quietude and contemplation. Staton's Store was one of my favorites. Maybe it was because the first thing I saw when going into the store with my dad was the display case containing candy. I would stand with my nickel in hand contemplating just what I was going to buy. In those days, it was penny candy. Some of the candy was two and three pieces for one penny and I always decided to get the multiples to make good use of my nickel and always left with my own little brown poke of candy.Staton's also bought furs from hunters and trappers and ginseng or other herbs. These were plentiful in those days and could be resold easily to larger distributors. Mrs. Staton was always friendly and just like your own grandma.
The community store in the center of our village operated by the mill sold almost anything imaginable from dry goods, canned goods and feed fro farm animals. They also had a butcher shop and often did custom butchering for the area farmers including making country sausage. Most of the mill workers had accounts where they often bought their groceries on credit and always paid on Friday cashing their checks in the store. This was convenient for most who did not own cars to travel to a bank in the nearby town which by the way only had a few banks. Most of the residents operated on a cash basis and lived week to week. Life was simple and the needs and wants were the bare minimum. We were poor but as a youngster, most of us didn't know it. Our basic needs of food , clothing and shelter were always met.
We had two restaurants in our town. One which had developed a reputation for having the best hot dogs in the country and a pool table and served also as a convenience type store. This one even had a bathroom but had to be entered from outside the restaurant. As a boy I though how strange to have a bubble gum machine inside a men's toilet! As a teenager, I learned it wasn't bubble gum but a machine that dispensed condoms for a price of 50 cents. Now another question entered my mind, what is a condom?
We had gasoline stations too and gasoline was cheap in the 1950's. Each station had its loyal customers and although none of the owners ever got rich, they survived and provided a living for the owners.
I miss the old mom and pop stores which now have disappeared giving way to chain grocery stores and big oil company convenience stores. For me it seems such a tragedy. Today we have the hurry up, stop and go and never enough time just sit back and enjoy a visit with our neighbors over a coke and a package of peanaut crackers.