Smiths General Store

A Cherokee General Store would carry many of the items popular across North America, but one could expect to see Cherokee crafts which might have been bartered in exchange for products from the store, and such a store might have carried products especially desired by Cherokee craftspeople, such as beading needles and leather-working needles.

A General Store was just what its name implies. It was a store that sold items of a general nature, such as food, medicine, household goods, and clothing material. A general store could special order items, such as lamps, or books, or boots. It regularly carried the most basic of things such as flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder, but also carried candy and smoking pipes. When a new load of things arrived, it could be an exciting day for shoppers. Often the general store might be operated by one person. If he was away, the store was closed. Generally, the storekeeper would also be willing to make an occasional trade, accepting a crafted item for some needed item. The store owner was also known to have some unusual items available for loan.

During the winter, travelers would expect to enjoy the store’s warm stove for a spell and obtain a light meal to eat. Older members of the community might stop by for a game of checkers or to while away the time in conversation. The porch of the store was an especially popular sitting area for all ages.

In early times, few products were individually wrapped, but instead were kept clean by being in bins and drawers. Many items might be sold by weighing them to determine their price. Without refrigerators and freezers, the store could only handle things that wouldn’t melt or spoil.

One corner of the store was usually the post office. Mail delivery was irregular in the early days of Indian Territory, but eventually became standardized.

This building was constructed from materials retrieved from the Stapler Home of Tahlequah.