More than convenience at general store

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A selection of locally packaged spices offered by The General’s Store. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

Some folks might recognize Rich Snow as the man behind the stacks of books in I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store. Others could remember him as one of the forces organizing last October’s Harvest Festival and other downtown Washington events. Now, Snow is manning the counter at The General’s Store, a retail operation that offers convenience and more to downtown shoppers.

“I’ve always wanted to open a general store,” said Snow. “And the town has been screaming for one.”

Snow, whose professional background includes the grocery trade, said his motivation to open the store is primarily a desire to see downtown succeed and contribute to the economic health of Main Street. He contrived to do so with a store where one can pick up a cold soda or midday snack, a pick-me-up latte or a bottle of aspirin, within walking distance for the many people who live and work in the area.

The General’s Store offers something else to its patrons: an opportunity to shop local.

“I really want to do local products,” Snow said. “That’s how a town should be — all things local.”

On the sidewalk outside the store, a tower of baskets holds an array of produce, grown locally. Inside, there are more homegrown goods like sweet potatoes, homemade goods like handmade soaps, home-baked goods like challah bread and individually wrapped hunks of crumb cake. There are locally packaged teas and spices and eggs from Beaufort County chicken coops, Mackey’s Ferry peanut butter and chocolate-covered peanuts.

“(The General’s Store) really features the things that people make here,” said Snow.

Mid-month, Snow closed his first downtown venture, I Can’t Believe It’s a Books Store, citing $500 to $1,000 utilities bills as a contributing factor in that decision.

“It was definitely a financial thing,” Snow explained about the closure. “The store was a huge success and has a big following.”

He stresses that the bookstore’s closure is temporary, as he is planning to reopen a smaller, back-to-basics version, offering new and used books. When that happens, book signings and other special events will be back on I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store’s schedule. In the meantime, Snow said he continues to special-order books for his customers through The General’s Store.

The General’s Store is located at 144 W. Main St., next to the Turnage Theater. It is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, but as the days lengthen in the coming months, the store’s hours will do the same, Snow said.