The general store, as old as America itself, harkens back to a simpler time and a more innocent and rural nation. The general store conjures a country-like place where kids come in to by penny candy, and adults to buy everything from swaths of fabric, to fresh vegetables, to four-penny nails. It was a place to pick up mail, the newspaper, and perhaps tarry a bit on a cold, winter’s morning to chat over a cup of coffee and a warm wood stove. Long before “Cheers,” the general store was the vital and inviting heart of a community, where everyone not only knew your name, but how you took that coffee, how many kids you had, and how’s your dad doing, anyway? And in tough times, it was a place that often treated customers like family, extending credit when no one else would. The general store was real-life Norman Rockwell—deeply woven into America’s cultural identity, an integral part of the nation’s self-portrait from its earliest days. Fact is, the general store is still very much here, and very much in business. What’s more, like the diner, it has seen a resurgence. In some places, it is even being reimagined for a new era.
Since 1995, Ted Reinstein has been a reporter for Boston’s WCVB-TV’s “Chronicle,” the nation’s longest-running locally-produced nightly newsmagazine. He also provides reports and commentary on Sunday mornings for the station’s political roundtable show, “On The Record.” Ted has been a member of the WCVB editorial board since 2010.