Can You Identify All These Items That Appear in a General Store?

By: Lauren Lubas
Image: Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty Images

About This Quiz

These days, we can shop pretty much anywhere and find anything we're looking for at the prices we want. With big box stores like Walmart and online shopping hubs, we have everything we need at our fingertips. 

However, it wasn't always this way. People used to have to leave their houses (and get dressed) to go shopping, even if they just needed a few odds and ends. Additionally, grocery stores didn't necessarily carry the items that people needed, so they'd have to go to multiple stores to get what they needed. That's where the general store came into play. If you needed to pick up the most random items in the world, they could all be found at a general store. They were like mini Walmart boutiques before Walmart was even a thing, and they were necessary in smaller towns where people didn't have the ways or the means to travel just to go shopping. As a matter of fact, if the general store didn't have what you needed, they would go so far as to order it for you, and it'd arrive on your next shopping trip. 

If you think you know what you'd find at a general store, take this quiz and we bet you'll be surprised. Let's see if you can identify all of these items that appear in a general store.

You could usually find needles at general stores in small towns and on corners of big cities alike. They were a necessity back when general stores were a necessity, because people needed to mend clothes and embroider.

Farmers would trade cheese to general stores for merchandise and in turn, general stores would sell it. As a matter of fact, farmers would trade just about anything to general stores so they could get products and general stores could stock even more.

Licorice was a staple at most general stores, and it didn't come in packages either. It was in jars, and people would hand it to your child without washing their hands ... after touching money. Think about it.

General stores often stocked canned goods on their shelves for two reasons. One, canned goods didn't expire as quickly as perishables, and two, they were a quick fix for travelers moving through the town.

Guns were a common sight in general stores before government regulations made it so that retail and sale shops needed permits to sell them. These days, there is paperwork involved when getting a gun.

Hershey's chocolate bars didn't always cost a dollar (or more these days), and they were actually a little smaller. Hershey bars have been sold in general stores since their inception in 1900.

Long ago, in this land right here, soda came in glass bottles that you could return to the general store to get a little bit of money back. Recycling was cool back then, because it cost quite a bit to make a glass bottle.

Think vanilla extract, then consider the fact that there were various other plants to extract from. Some of these extracts were made specifically for cooking, and others helped people heal minor wounds.

Many general stores around the country sold throw rugs and area rugs to those in town. For the most part, these were special orders put in when someone needed one, but they were still sold at the general store.

General stores often sold children's toys, because children often shopped at general stores. Among the toys sold were puzzles, which were perfect for people who had to deal with rainy days and inclement weather.

Later on, general stores that had chest freezers would actually scoop the ice cream out for you as you ordered it. It was a great way to attract children to your store and have them spend their money on things they didn't need.

For the most part, general stores would sell handmade soaps from people in the town. If there wasn't a person in town willing to trade soaps for goods, general stores would stock soaps from their distribution companies.

Tea was a necessity for general stores on the east coast. Some general stores even offered imported teas for foreign lands, which always caught the attention of tea drinkers in the area.

While general stores were around during a time when bread was made at home, there were times when people just wanted to buy a loaf to get it out of the way. Considering it could have taken people hours to get to the store, it wasn't unheard of that they'd just pick up a loaf while they were there.

A variety of tools could be found at the general store in town. This is because most towns were too small to justify an entire hardware store, so the majority of what you needed could be found or ordered at the general store.

Shoes weren't necessarily a common item to see in general stores, but they could be ordered specifically for you if you needed them. This is, of course, only if there isn't a cobbler in your town.

Though many people don't wear aprons anymore, they were a necessity a long time ago. This is because people had fewer clothing options and couldn't just change when they were messy. That's where aprons come in.

Mints were generally thought of as a candy item in general stores for a long time. It wasn't until "halitosis" was made up (yeah, it's not a real thing) that mints were sold as a way to be more likable.

If there wasn't a bakery in your town, you could find various baked goods at the general store. However, they were usually made by someone in town who traded them for goods and merchandise.

Long before your phone (or social media, for some of you) delivered the news to you every day, people had to wait for the news to be delivered to them ... in paper form. Saving the trees wasn't a thing back then.

Flour and wheat were essential items that were found in general stores across the country. This is because wheat was abundant throughout the country and it was a cheap way to fill yourself up (and it was nutritious).

If a place sold hammers, it only made sense that it would too sell nails. For those general stores in towns without hardware stores, nails were another necessity to stock the shelves with.

There was very little need for clocks in rural towns back in the day. Usually, there was one large clock tower in town and bells rang to tell you what time it was. If you needed to be anywhere (like school), you'd just listen for the bell.

Sugar was used for baking, cooking and making sweets at home. While it wasn't a necessity in all homes, those who made their own bread knew that a spoonful of sugar fed the yeast and made it rise.

Children loved candy, and they also loved interacting with things. Put the two together, and you have a gumball machine. The design of gumball machines hasn't changed much, but the materials they use to make them have.

If you move milk around enough (whole cream milk, that is) it will eventually start to get more and more dense, until it becomes butter. However, if you add a little sugar, and don't over churn, you'll have whipped cream.

We all love our morning cup, but what would happen if we ran out? Well, knowing us, we'd run to the store and grab some or just stop at Starbucks. That wasn't really possible back in the day, that's why coffee was sold at general stores.

Oil lamps and oil for those lamps were all sold at the general store. Of course, this was a huge fire hazard and during a time when fire departments were men with buckets doesn't really give us much hope.

Fun fact: the lighter was invented before the match, but matches and lighters alike were sold at general stores. If you wanted to build a fire, but didn't want to get close to the flame, throw a match in.

Spices were a great way to make your food taste different; however, spice trades were never accurate and couldn't be depended upon. However, general stores offered different spices (seasonally, of course).

Cough syrup in the early 1900s wasn't very much like the cough syrup we have today. It was much stronger and put people to sleep pretty quickly. That's why it was so addictive and effective.

Oranges were regional and seasonal. This means that they were only sold in certain parts of the country and during certain times of the year. They were found in general stores often.

If you needed to make a s'more or you just wanted to add a little marshmallow to your day, you could pick up these sweet treats at your local general store ... if they had them in stock.

You could also make hot cocoa with this as well as various other treats and breads. Unsweetened cocoa powder is a versatile ingredient for bakers and home cooks alike, but if you wanted some, you had to go to the general store.

Butter didn't always come in convenient little sticks. As a matter of fact, it usually came in a big blog wrapped in wax paper. It was weighed and sold by ounce or pound in general stores across the country.

Crackers, like most other items were sold in tins. You could find most crackers at general stores, because they didn't go bad easily (especially when they were in metal containers), and they didn't take up much shelf space.

Yes, general stores came stocked and fully loaded with chewing tobacco and various other vices that people in town might have. Each customer that came in was a regular, and sometimes, store owners would know exactly when they were coming in.

Taffy was a common item to have in general stores, because it wasn't very expensive to make and children loved it. You could usually get taffy at a good price and if you were a kid with a nickel, it was the most bang for your buck (or nickel).

Not all general stores carried gasoline, but those in towns that required it sure did. Soon, general stores became fill up stations and they provided pretty much everything for everyone in town.

Stockings were an essential part of women's apparel back in the old days. That's why general stores often stocked them, because the women in town would eventually need them ... until they stopped wearing stockings.

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