Modern one-stop shops and big-box stores have nothing on the savvy merchants of centuries past. In these stores, town history was made, repeated, and turned into legend. “Once you start digging around in country store history, there is no end,” says Bob Lambert, original owner of Troy Mills Country Store just outside of Kirksville. “Rural Missouri has a story to tell, and these stores are where to start.”

A cache of general stores in our state hearken back to days of the past. Some are more than a century old and haven’t changed a bit—except, maybe, for the ways products are packaged, how the counters are cleaned, or which generation is running the show. Some are relatively brand-new, catering to customers looking to step back in time.

Plan a visit to a historically rooted general store near your neighborhood. You’ll find shelves of nearly anything you can imagine and smiling faces at the ready to usher you into the past.

Kath Teoli

Snoddy’s Store, New Franklin

“If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it”

Family owned and operated since 1924, Snoddy’s Store near Boonville is one of the most unique, useful, and utterly interesting spots to pick up what you need. This fourth-generation country store stays true to its rural roots, serving as a hardware store, grocery store, and community meeting place all in one.

Brothers Chris and Jim Snoddy own the store, and they take pride in the wide selection of goods. Snoddy’s carries products as varied as fresh fruits and vegetables, fishing gear, paint supplies, and a selection of local barbecue sauces and spices.

Snoddy’s was one of the few Howard County riverside businesses to survive the infamous flood of ’93. At one point, this was the only spot in the area to pick up hard-to-find items such as plumbing and hardware tools, which are Chris’s personal favorites to sell. Today, Snoddy’s often hosts community events and fundraisers.

Snoddy’s is perched across from the Katy Trail, just east of the Missouri River Bridge, between Boonville and New Franklin.

416 Missouri Route 5 • 660-848-2772 •

Courtesy First Dawn General Store

First Dawn General Store, Lesterville

The oldest store in town

Operating for 135 years, this charming country store has taken its place in Lesterville’s history books. First Dawn housed the post office for thirty-two years, the first Western Union crank telephone in the region, and the fi rst bank in Lesterville, which opened in 1909. Check out the original safe when you visit.

“This store has been a central part of the community for over 130 years,” says owner Dawn Nichols. “It’s been the place where people met and visited around the old stove and traded for their everyday essentials. Much of the store is still in its original state, so when you visit you’re actually experiencing a piece of Missouri history come to life.”

Before it became First Dawn, it was the Dobbins, Carter & Company Store. The cornerstones were laid in 1882, and soon shoppers could find Oliver plows, Peters Shoes, and all of the other essentials for life in the nineteenth-century Black River community.

The history of the area is reflected in the architecture of the building. “It’s a feeling you get when you walk through the doors,” Dawn says. “You truly feel as if you stepped back in time. Nostalgia washes over you, and you reconnect with your memories of times gone by.” Dawn and her husband, Je. , purchased the building in 2011 and set about carefully restoring it. They kept the old wood floors, shelves, counters, and countertops to preserve the same feeling customers would have had when James Dobbins first opened the store.

The goods sold here are still reminiscent of the past, with such items as local quilts, honey, fudge, syrup, ice cream, and various Amish goods. Dawn says guests love to pick up penny candy, which is sold by the poke. “Children enjoy scooping the bulk candy, putting it in a brown bag the old timers call a poke, and weighing it on the scales,” she explains. Old-fashioned ice cream floats are also a big seller here, especially during Missouri’s humid summers. The store is also home to Lesterville Florist, which Dawn has owned since 1999.

A Victorian-style home called The Dobbins House, also circa 1882, is right next door to First Dawn. The Nichols rent this home out for weeks or weekends.

514 Main Street • 573-637-2623 •

Courtesy Karl Kischel

Crane’s Country Store, Williamsburg

Boots, bullets, britches, and bologna

Tradition runs deep at Crane’s Country Store in Williamsburg, a rural general store that has served as a “great place to shop since 1889,” as their slogan attests.

Crane’s—family owned and operated for four generations— sells everything from the famous “one meat, one cheese, two dollar” sandwiches on white bread to a wide selection of guns and ammo. Locals say Crane’s has the area’s best selection for items such as men’s boots and clothing, carrying popular brands Carhartt and Wolverine. Owner David Crane is proud to o. er national name brands. “We’re one of the only places in the state for Filson Company luggage, an over 100-year-old Seattle-based company,” David says.

Benjamin Rush Crane opened the original Country Store in April 1889 in Mineola, a small town just eight miles east of Williamsburg. The store thrived as a community meeting place, something that hasn’t really changed over time. Crane’s hosts a weekly meeting of community storytellers called the Liar’s Club. The group gathers in the store and members take turns telling stories. If you get to hear them trading tales when you visit, take a guess as to whether the stories are true, false, or a mix of both.

In 1926, Samuel Crane moved the store to where it stands now in Williamsburg. Two generations later, David oversees the day-to-day operations, a considerable task in the six-room, five-thousand-square-foot location just off Interstate 70.

Wintertime shoppers can warm up inside by the massive wood-burning stove. Head outside on pleasant days to enjoy the view from the front porch. Day-trippers can pass an afternoon at Crane’s Museum and Marlene’s Restaurant, the on-site eatery, with plenty of time left to roam the shelves.

10675 Old Highway 40 • 573-254-3311 •

Courtesy Greasy Creek

Greasy Creek General Store, Buffalo

See y’all at the store!

Family owned and operated since 2010, Greasy Creek General Store is a re-created blast from the past that keeps locals and visitors alike coming back for more. Dan Bush, patriarch of the family in charge of Greasy Creek, says they strive to maintain an old-time general store theme, one “that is woven into our country’s fiber, especially in the rich historical area of the Missouri Ozark Mountains.” Local lore claims this area got its name when a bacon-filled wagon spilled its cargo into the creek along the road that was the first wagon trail out of Buffalo.

Located just two miles east of Buffalo on state Route 32, Greasy Creek preserves the charm of an old-fashioned general store with its fresh produce selection, front porch and rocking chair atmosphere, and simple rustic décor. Visitors will find spring and summer produce grown by Mennonites from Lead Mine and local handmade items, including a large variety of scented soaps, pottery, woodcarvings, nineteenth-century clothing, and blacksmith items.

The Bushes host several hands-on workshops that teach guests blacksmithing, leather tooling, and stained glasswork, among other skills. “Our hearts are into keeping the old ways, crafts, traditions, and ethics alive so others know where we all came from,” Dan says.

The storekeepers stay involved in the community with events and history celebrations. The Fall Festival Craft Show happens the first weekend of October each year, and the 1800s Day Spring Festival kicks off in mid-April.

5 Ozark Trail • 417-345-0616

Courtesy Old Village Mercantile

Old Village Mercantile, Caledonia

The Candy Store

An antique store and old-time candy store all in one, Old Village Mercantile in Caledonia is a store worth exploring. This shop opened in 1909, although its history traces much further back.

In the 1800s, Caledonia had four general stores, a hardware store, a stagecoach inn, and a blacksmith shop. Old Village housed the post office within, as well as two rooms for lodging upstairs. The building burned down at the turn of the twentieth century; rebuilt in 1909, it has remained the same ever since, still sporting a detailed storefront design. The store is now a shining gem in the local national historic district, which altogether holds thirty-three homes and businesses.

According to its owners, Old Village is one of those rare establishments of the past, preserved for today’s customers to experience. The store stays true to the tradition of serving as the central meeting, shopping, and trading spot in the community. These days, locals refer to Old Village as simply The Candy Store. The shelves are packed with more than six hundred varieties of old-fashioned candy—classics such as malt balls, rock candy, and lollipops—plus a wide variety of local Amish fudge in more than twenty-four flavors. The store sells bulk food and locally made goods such as jams, jellies, and candles, too.

Visit Old Village for historical insight and delicious candies, and stay for the on-site antique gallery, coffee bar, and soda fountain.

219 South State Highway 21 • 573-799-3907

Courtesy James Country Mercantile

James Country Mercantile, Liberty

Come live the history

Established in 1985 by Del and Jean Warren, James Country Mercantile offers guests an entirely different kind of Missouri historic shopping experience. Specializing in historic garb, the Warrens have one main purpose: “We outfit the 1800s living historian from head to foot, outside and underneath!”

Del used to travel around the Midwest to show o. his gun-smithing skills and sell wares from various eras. After a few years, his interest moved toward Civil War-era goods and services, which led to a retail storefront opening in 1996. The Warrens set up shop in the original Old Town Liberty area. With the help of a local re-enactor and several seamstresses, authentic Civil War-era uniforms and clothing became a successful selling point.

James Country Mercantile goes beyond historically outfitting customers; Del and Jean also work as historical consultants for guests who want to fine-tune their impressions with authenticity. “Consulting is wide and varied—style of clothing or accessories, fabric that is correct in design and color, etiquette and manners, etc.” Jean says. The store also sells firearms, tinware, buttons, and the like, ensuring each little detail of the journey into the past is complete.

The Warrens serve people seeking a wide range of items, from outfitting families for a Midwest regional rendezvous to helping attendants of the Western Writers of America conference. “We’ve recently worked with cowboy action shooters getting ready to attend the Grand Army of the Frontier Annual Muster and hosted a tour for special education students from North Kansas City,” says Jean.

111 North Main • 816-781-9473 •

Troy Mills Country Store, Kirksville

Rural convenience and friendly faces

Boasting a history that traces back to the 1940s, Troy Mills Country Store is a rural Kirksville mom-and-pop shop that has been attracting a steady crowd of locals and out-of-towners for more than seventy-five years. As the last stop between Kirksville and Brookfield for gas and general store goodies, Troy Mills is always bustling.

Way back when, the area featured an old brick factory mill on Route 11. The tiny community was called Troy Mills, home to a dentist, doctor, and post office. The railroad development in what is now Kirksville made this community all but obsolete, with the lone survivor Troy Mills Country Store.

Rustic local signs, freshly sliced deli sandwiches, and modern grab-and-go snacks, gas pumps, even on-site apartments and the car shop greet shoppers upon entering the store lot. Jaime Janes takes the tradition of community care seriously, a mantle she assumed after taking over the store in 2014 from original owners Bob and Lois Lambert.

When Bob first started out in business, he ran a car lot as a local auctioneer; the spot grew into a filling station before he knew it. Bob and his workers offered full service, pumping gas, cleaning the windshield, checking the battery and tires, all the while customers were inside shopping.

Bob and Lois each have at least a hundred funny stories about local characters who patronized the store over the years. “That’s the pretty part about a country store,” Bob says. “There is so much history and so much community involvement.”

23284 State Route H • 660-627-5511

Kath Teoli

Bucksnort Trading Company, Arrow Rock

A few steps back in time

A step away from the traditional general store of Missouri’s past and a step toward originality, Bucksnort Trading Company is dedicated to the turn-of-the-century era. It caters to historic clothing, crafts, gifts, and living history items from the 1890s. The spot is popular with re-enactors, history lovers, and anyone who delights in finding trinkets and treasures.

At Bucksnort, browse a wide range of products, including Victorian ladies’ clothing, men’s Old West clothing, Western and Southwestern textiles, rugs, baskets, blankets, soaps, and lotions. The store also carries products and cultural items produced by American Indians and a wide variety of internationally produced fair-trade goods. The authentic turquoise and silver jewelry is a bestseller, though the wide selection of tribal music isn’t far behind. “We may have the best selection of Native American music in the state,” says owner Gerald Cunningham.

Gerald and his wife, Connie, founded the store in nearby Blackwater in 2007 and moved it to Arrow Rock in 2015. The Cunninghams named their venture after the snorting noise deer make during rut or when alarmed and as a tribute to the nineteenth-century Texas trading post by the same name on the Brazos River.

As the owners of a historical outfitter, the Cunninghams take part in many local and statewide reenactment days, typically attending about six a year.

802 Main Street • 660-837-3224