new hampshire

2019 Seven to Save: General Stores

Courtesy Historic Harrisville

Courtesy Historic Harrisville

General stores have long been a fixture in any New Hampshire village, and our state claims several superlatives: Bath as the oldest continuously run store in America (open since the early 1790s), Moultonborough as the oldest store in America (since the 1780s), and Francestown as the second oldest continually operated store (since 1814).

Through the 1990s and 2000s, though, general stores struggled to remain economically viable, and dozens in NH were lost. In the past several years, a number of towns experienced the closure of a general store, including Brookline, Hill, Grafton, West Canaan, Cornish, Francestown, and even Danbury. Some have since re-opened to cater to tourists and no longer offer staples for the community. Others re-open with an emphasis on prepared foods. Too many remain closed.

When the private market will not re-open a store, there are models of ownership that can help keep stores open. Nonprofit ownership, like in Harrisville, South Acworth, Hooksett, and Eaton allows for stores to lower overhead costs and keep stores that operate on the margins, viable.

Read more about general stores here.