As any motorcyclist knows, there’s magic in discovering new backroads. A part of that magic is exploring the markets and general stores tucked away from the hustle of the city.
They let us experience a little piece of the history of the general store—an important aspect of commerce and growth in America’s early days. Here are six places you may want to check out on your next tour.
In the village of Bath, on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River in northwestern New Hampshire, there is an establishment that can legitimately lay claim to be America’s oldest general store. In business since the early 1790s, it has served continuously as a general store, a post office, law offices, a millinery shop, and a press.
Since the early 1880s, The Brick Store has operated as a general merchandise store, earning its stripes on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it serves as a deli, offering a full menu of sandwiches and refreshments. The owners also plan to add ice cream and coffee to the offerings.
The walls are covered with memorabilia, which suit the smell of smoked meats and the pour of old-fashioned root beer. The sandwiches are thick and there’s cheese and pepperoni smoked on-site.
Nearby is the Bath Covered Bridge, and there are a host of small, curvy roads that wind in and around this picturesque part of the state. If your riding takes you through New Hampshire, The Brick Store deserves a detour.
Find it at 21 Lisbon Rd, Bath, NH, (603) 747-2074.
Where else would you get Grade A Vermont maple syrup than in Vermont? Buy it alone or with the “Wake Up to Pancakes” gift box at the Vermont Country Store, a classic emblem of American general stores.
The establishment sells everything from sweets to shirts, bedding to toys—generally, almost anything you might need. Of course, that was the function and definition of general stores.
The Vermont Country Store was founded in 1946 in the village of Weston, VT. Today, 77 years on, the store is still in the family, run by seventh and eighth-generation Vermonters.
The family lineage preserves the atmosphere and functionality, as well as the charm, set forth by the owners’ parents and grandparents. The Vermont Country Store boasts that they’re stocked to the rafters with quality merchandise from around the block and around the world.
There’s plenty to peruse here, so give yourself time to look and shop, as the store prides itself on stocking products that aren’t sold anywhere else. It overflows with decadence in the form of treats, cakes, pastries, candy, and a range of Vermont cheeses.
Nearby, there’s the Old Mill Museum and two live theaters—the Weston Theater and the Playhouse. Also, there’s the Farrar-Mansur House & Museum, which was built in 1797 as a tavern and is preserved as a historic house. The Country Store has a sister store in Rockingham, allowing you to tie the two establishments together with a ride.
Find it at 657 Main St, Weston, VT, (802) 824-3184
Located between the Fred Johnson Wildlife Management Area and Roxbury State Forest in central Vermont, you’ll find the Warren General Store. A classic country store into its second century of serving the small township, the building has transitioned from a stagecoach stop to a hotel and gas station before assuming its current status in the ‘70s.
The Warren Country Store is run by a smiling crew of locals under Vermont owners. The crew is ready bright and early with their signature Capital Grounds coffee, as well as a full line of espresso drinks. They also serve a wide range of teas and, in season, Mexican hot chocolate.
Deli sandwiches start with fresh bread baked daily on-site and are augmented with in-house blended condiments. Depending on your state of mind, the Warren Store has you covered, with either grab-and-go offerings or a proper sit-down dinner.
The store is stocked with essentials, like eggs, milk, and a large selection of Vermont maple syrups. If you want to browse, upstairs you’ll find clothing, jewelry, bath and beauty supplies, and toys.
The village of Warren sits on SR 100, one of the many roads that twist and turn their way through the surrounding rolling countryside. The area is ripe for two-wheel exploration, with surprises such as Moss Glen Falls. Plan your trip carefully as Waren gets its share of snow in the winter.
Find it at 284 Main St, Warren, VT, (802) 496-3864.
If your travels take you anywhere near Cape Cod, plan to visit the 1856 Country Store in Centerville, MA. Originally built in 1840 as a cranberry storage facility, the building was transformed into a shoe store in 1842, and then became a general store in 1856—hence the name.
A classic penny candy store when it was in operation, through a spontaneous whim the store changed hands to its present owners. They maintain its charm, ensuring its beloved status as a central piece of Centerville and nearby Cape Cod.
The town itself is made up of sea captain’s homes and brims with the colors, sights and sounds of Cape Cod Bay. There are roads that circumnavigate the periphery of Cape Cod, and with an extended ride you might want to venture to the northern tip of the peninsula to visit Provincetown, where you’ll find Herring Cove Beach and Long Point Light Station. The 1856 Country Store still nostalgically offers penny candy.
Find it at 555 Main St, Centerville, MA, (508) 775-1856.
The Adirondack General Store takes you back to what the hamlet of Adirondack was like in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The building was originally established in 1855 as a company store for the local tannery before transitioning into a boarding house and a post office. Eventually, it became a general store.
The store has been intentionally preserved to showcase all its old-world charm. A functioning general store that carries a wide range of practical goods, the Adirondack General Store also has table service, serving breakfast and lunch daily, with dinner served on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu is based around American fare.
There are also gifts, a full deli house, groceries, smokehouse products, and—to fully substantiate themselves as a small-town lakeside general store—they have fishing tackle and night crawlers. There’s a lot more as well, so allow plenty of time to wander through the old store.
Situated on the east shore of Schroon Lake, the store embodies the relaxed atmosphere and small-town warmth perfect for an upstate escape. Nearby are various motorcycle-friendly roads that will take you, among other places, to Natural Stone Bridge & Caves. There are also hiking trails in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.
Find it at 899 E Shore Dr, Adirondack, NY, (815) 494-4408.
Located in the Green Mountains of central Vermont is the pastoral village of Barnard. In the center of town, standing as one of Vermont’s oldest general stores, is the Barnard General.
The store has weathered the ravages of COVID, which, sadly, closed so many of the country’s amazing original general stores. First opened in 1832, the Barnard General Store is representative of a more genteel time, with its ardently American architecture, nestled on the banks of peaceful Silver Lake.
Stepping through the front door from the tranquil lakefront setting to the wood-floored interior transports you back in time. There’s a wood-burning stove for heating in winter, and the shelves are stocked with groceries and household supplies, reminding you that this is a functioning store for locals.
For the traveler passing through, there’s an old-fashioned lunch counter that serves breakfast and lunch daily, as well as seasonal ice cream seasonally. The deli boasts fresh meats, seafood, and baked goods.
Of special interest to motorcyclists, the Bernard General Store sells gasoline, including non-ethanol, making it a perfect (and entertaining) backroads pitstop to fill your bike and yourself. Situated on SR 12 in the small enclave of Barnard, the General Store is surrounded by 50 square miles of hilly forests near the Connecticut River, with numerous winding roads providing plenty of options for exploration.
Find it at 6134 VT-12, Barnard, VT, (802) 234-9688.