The Country Store in Southwest Virginia

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Southwest Virginia Project
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One can imagine how dazzling to youthful eyes must have been the miscellaneous

variety of desirable things Source:Fox, 1901

The Country Store in Virginia

See also Merchants of Southwest Virginia

From: Source:Fisk, 1902. The following was written primarily in the context of the Country Store of Tidewater, but fits tolerably well into the context of Southwest Virginia as well.

The country store was an important institution in Old Virginia. Under some conditions it would have formed a nucleus around which a town would have been developed, but in Virginia the store seems to have been regarded as a kind of rival against which the town could not compete. It furnished a number of petty centres which did away with the need for larger centres...It might be a room in a planter's house, or it might be a detached barn-like building on the estate. Mr. Bruce tells us that to enumerate its contents would be to mention pretty much every article for which Virginians had any use. For example, the inventory of the Hubbard store in York County, taken in 1667, "contained lockram, canvas, dowlas, Scotch cloth, blue linen, oznaburg, cotton, holland, serge, kersey, and flannel in bales, full suits for adults and youths, bodices, bonnets, and laces for women, shoes, . . . gloves, hose, cloaks, cravats, handkerchiefs, hats, and other articles of dress, . . . hammers, hatchets, chisels, augers, locks, staples, nails, sickles, bellows, froes, saws, axes, files, bed-cords, dishes, knives, flesh forks, porringers, sauce-pans, frying-pans, grid-irons, tongs, shovels, hoes, iron posts, tables, physic, wool-cards, gimlets, compasses, needles, stirrups, looking-glasses, candlesticks, candles, funnels, 25 pounds of raisins, 100 gallons of brandy, 20 gallons of wine, and 10 gallons of aqua vita. The contents of the Hubbard store were valued at 614 pounds sterling, a sum which represented about $15,000 in our present currency [estimated at $15,000 in 1902]."

Image:Interior of a Country Store.jpgFrom:

The Country Store in Southwest Virginia

From: Blue Ridge Institute

As early as 1780 there were silversmiths, gunsmiths, cabinetmakers, wagonmakers, portrait painters, clockmakers, and even boat builders in the counties along the Great Road. By 1780 in Abingdon and 1800 in Wytheville, store inventories attest to the availability of delftware, Queen's Ware, bolts of cloth, looking glasses, and toothbrushes. In fact, almost anything available on the coast of Virginia or in Richmond could be bought in the back country.
One can imagine how dazzling to youthful eyes must have been the miscellaneous

variety of desirable things Source:Fox, 1901. Shown here is a display of goods for sale at a modern "re-enactment" of an 18th Century Trade Fair. The kinds of goods shown is probably typical of what might have been available on the Virginia frontier, though the glass colors are probably designed to please a 21st century aesthic.