​Nation’s Oldest General Store Is Closing Doors After 224 Years

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July 29, 2012

After being open for 224 years, the nation’s oldest general store is closing its doors for good, but the property is going up for sale as the 21-year-old owner wants to become a sports journalist.

Owner Jonah Waite wants to sell the property

Gray’s store in the Adamsville village in Little Compton opened in 1788 and has been in continuous operation ever since. It’s set to close on Sunday.

Owner Jonah Waite inherited the store after his father died last month. But the 21-year-old senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut wants to be a sports journalist instead of a general store owner, and he’s selling the property.

Waite says his father, Grayton Waite, intended the sell the store, and he believes his father would have approved of his actions.

Waite says the store has seen 10 times the usual amount of customers since the closing was announced.

In 2007, Rhode Island leaders proclaimed Gray’s the oldest continuously run general store in the country.

An only child, Waite inherited the general store following the death of his father, Grayton Waite, 59, June 11.

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 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.