Context: What was the General Store Like?
The general store looked like a big house. When the people first walked into the store, there was a lot for them to see. It had a counter (sometimes with glass to display things) where the store keeper stood. In the middle of the room was a wood stove that heated the whole building. There was also a bench that people called "The Gossip Bench." That's where the people sat and talked. In front of the counter were chairs for people to sit and have a drink or look at the items that they had purchased.
In the back was a small room that was used for the post office. The post office had little shelves on the wall, and each shelf belonged to a family. That was where the post man would put the mail. It also had a little table for people to sit down and open their mail.
In the building was a set of stairs leading to an upstairs where the storekeeper's family lived. Upstairs had the basic rooms like the family's bedrooms, the kitchen and a living room. There were no washrooms with running water, so the family had to use an outhouse.
In the fall and summer, the family used a different kitchen outside so that the store would not get too hot. In the winter, they used the inside kitchen to heat the place up.
Some stores were larger then houses, and some were smaller. Usually, they had huge signs on the front of their stores advertising their goods. Inside the general store were many decorations. During Christmas, dolls were displayed and the pipes on the walls looked like candy canes. All the decorations made it easier to attract attention.
The store was in the center of the town or village (if it was a rural community). Most of the time, the store only had one person working there, and that was the owner. In busy times, the storekeeper's family might help out. Cities had lots of other stores competing for people's business, but a village probably only had one store.
D. J. MacLean's General Store, Montague, PEI, ca. 1915
PARO, Acc 24765