One of the nation's oldest general stores will close today after over 200 years of operation.
Gray's Store in Little Compton, Rhode Island has been open since 1788. At 224 years old, the store is one of the oldest operating general stores in the United States. Despite being equipped with all the charm of an old fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnny cakes, the store is still being forced to close its doors on Sunday afternoon.
Owner Jonah Waite, who inherited the shop after his father passed of cancer last month, has stated that the business is simply not profitable and cannot hold up to other businesses in the area which have taken customers away. Waite, 21, is still in school according to the Berkshire Eagle, a local Massachusetts paper. Preoccupied with beginning a career in sports journalism, Waite has little interest in trying to master the act of keeping a small business alive.
However, the store has been in Waite's family for seven generations, beginning in 1879, and Waite is not yet sure if he will sell the actual property.
"More customers than usual have been gathering at Gray's in recent days to say farewell and share memories," Waite said, according to the Berkshire.
Some of the store's oldest and most loyal customers have recalled having fond memories of the general store growing up.
"We'd eat freeze pops on the front steps," Bob Wordell a mechanic working nearby told The Providence Journal. "I think they cost a nickel."
Although some may believe that Waite is selling his family out, Waite believes his father would support his decision. He said that coping with his father's death, the store, and school has been too much, and also confirmed that it was his father's plan all along to sell the store and pay off bills in order to retire according to the Berkshire.