The general store not only sold food and household goods, but also acted as a post office, a source of news, and a meeting place. Men would play checkers and discuss the news, while other customers purchased what they needed. This painting shows the variety of things available and the variety of people that frequented the general store.
A trip to the general store was not an everyday event and because of this, goods were sold in bulk by weight. A farmer might purchase a few months worth of a particular item. Products at the general store were not individually packaged like they are today. The storekeeper would use scales to weigh out a particular amount, then wrap the item or place it in a jug the customer brought along.
Milk was a very important resource for a farmer in the nineteenth century. With little meat available, dairy products such as butter and cheese were the best way for people to get protein in their diets. Cows had to be milked twice a day. During the mid-nineteenth century, milking was done entirely by hand. Farmers sat on a stool and milked into a bucket.