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224 year old General store going to close next week


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LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. (AP) -- Gray's Store in Adamsville village brought in customers for years with its old-fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnny cakes.

The 224-year-old business may be the oldest operating general store in America, although others have staked similar claims. TheRhode Island store near the Massachusetts line opened in 1788. Now owners say this year is its last.

Gray's is set to close Sunday afternoon.

Owner Jonah Waite inherited the shop after his father died of cancer last month. He said Saturday it was a hard decision to close the store and leave behind all the history, but the shop's finances aren't sustainable and a supermarket down the street has siphoned away business.

Waite, 21, who will be a senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut in the fall, also is consumed with pursuing a career in sports journalism.

"Obviously, I understand the historical aspect of it, and I would really love to keep it the way it is, but it doesn't seem to me that that's the most feasible option," Waite said. "With the economy ... the place has lost its attraction, lost its luster."

Waite said he's not sure yet if he will keep the property or try to sell it.

The shop features general store standards like penny candy and a small selection of groceries, as well as antiques and collectible knickknacks. It's been in Waite's family for seven generations, since 1879, and comprises the front part of the family's home.

He said his father, Grayton Waite, who was 59 when he died June 11, enjoyed selling cigars and candy. His great grandfather owned the store in the early 1900s and ran a gristmill to make his own corn meal that he sold in the store.

In 2007, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and then-Gov. Donald Carcieri issued proclamations naming Gray's as the oldest continuously run general store in the country.

More customers than usual have been gathering at Gray's in recent days to say farewell and share memories, Waite said.

Bob Wordell, a mechanic down the street, remembers gathering at the store in the summer with his friends when he was a child years ago.

"We'd eat freeze pops on the front steps," Wordell told The Providence Journal. "I think they cost a nickel."

Waite said it's been hard dealing with the store and coping with his father's death at such a young age. But he believes his father would support what he's doing. He said his father intended to sell the property after he got sick to pay medical bills and retire.

"He's trusting that I'll do the right thing and what's best for me," Waite said

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F*ck small businesses. If I can save 15-20% at Walmart, I'm going to Walmart. I'm not here to subsidize sentimentality.

so you want a world of nothing but Wal Mart, McDonalds and Starbucks in 50 years?

that's what we're looking at

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F*ck small businesses. If I can save 15-20% at Walmart, I'm going to Walmart. I'm not here to subsidize sentimentality.

Great philosophy! So what happens when Wal-Mart runs everyone out of business and then jacks up their prices, hmmm? Not to mention, Wal-Mart isn't that cheap. They trick you with lower prices on more visible items.

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Great philosophy! So what happens when Wal-Mart runs everyone out of business and then jacks up their prices, hmmm? Not to mention, Wal-Mart isn't that cheap. They trick you with lower prices on more visible items.

This is capitalism, son. There will always be new Walmarts to regulate the old Walmarts.

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i prefer to shop at local pizza places rather than support Dominos or Pizza Hutt

i also prefer local sandwich shops over Sub way

i don't mind paying an extra dollar or two knowing it's going to a local Maine or New York business (two places I stay at mostly)

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Not really. Walmarts just close down and move to different zip codes to manipulate tax laws.

In reference to 80's concern that Walmart would turn on us, I was replying that there will always be another discount retailer to undercut the prior discount retailer. The same way the general store undercut the specialty shop, and Sears undercut the general store, and Caldor's, Ames, Jamesway, etc, undercut Sears, and Walmart undercut Caldor's, Ames, Jamesway, etc. Hell, online retail is already on its way to undercutting Walmart.

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Yes, I'm sure that has everything to do with supporting local businesses and nothing to do with Dominos and Pizza Hut pizza being ketchup and Kraft cheese melted on to Wonderbread.

1-my parents love dominos and order it every friday...i come over on weekends and it's actually good now. i remember dominos when i was a teen though...yuck

2-Papa Johns is a chain and they have better pizza than most places. i still try not to order them unless they have great deals.

bonus: the place in Bangor that Stephen King eats at has the worst tasting pizza ever. i run into him there frequently because we both order late at night when they are closing and he only lives 150 yards away from me. i'm surprised he doesn't get a tab at one of the better pizza places on the east side but he must hate driving.

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In reference to 80's concern that Walmart would turn on us, I was replying that there will always be another discount retailer to undercut the prior discount retailer. The same way the general store undercut the specialty shop, and Sears undercut the general store, and Caldor's, Ames, Jamesway, etc, undercut Sears, and Walmart undercut Caldor's, Ames, Jamesway, etc. Hell, online retail is already on its way to undercutting Walmart.

I knew what you meant. I instead chose to interpret it literally to make my point about Walmart hopping zip codes though, neither of us are wrong here... as you are getting at, there will always be a bigger fish in the food chain that comes along to swallow up the rest... until the zombies that is.

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Yes, I'm sure that has everything to do with supporting local businesses and nothing to do with Dominos and Pizza Hut pizza being ketchup and Kraft cheese melted on to Wonderbread.

I'd normally agree with you, except for the pure fact that the people in the middle, the ones that serve as the primary demographics for chains, have absolute horrid, bland taste in food... they prefer the flavorless, predictability of ketchup on wonderbread.

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1-my parents love dominos and order it every friday...i come over on weekends and it's actually good now. i remember dominos when i was a teen though...yuck

2-Papa Johns is a chain and they have better pizza than most places. i still try not to order them unless they have great deals.

This is one of your worst posts ever. Like top 5 at least.

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I'd normally agree with you, except for the pure fact that the people in the middle, the ones that serve as the primary demographics for chains, have absolute horrid, bland taste in food... they prefer the flavorless, predictability of ketchup on wonderbread.

Preaching to the choir. Live in the Midwest, the concept of what is and isn't good pizza here doesn't exist.

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i prefer to shop at local pizza places rather than support Dominos or Pizza Hutt

i also prefer local sandwich shops over Sub way

i don't mind paying an extra dollar or two knowing it's going to a local Maine or New York business (two places I stay at mostly)

Bad examples. Only good pizza is local pizza. And any sandwich is better than subway!

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