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America's oldest store shuts down after 224 years

PTI Washington | Updated on July 30, 2012

America’s oldest general store, opened one year before George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States, has shut down after serving the community for 224 years.

Gray’s Store in the small village of Adamsville in Rhode Island opened in 1788, selling penny candy, cigars and a small selection of groceries, as well as antiques and collectible knick-knacks.

Since 1879, the business has been owned by the Waite family.

A large crowd gathered outside the store yesterday morning to say goodbye to the business on its final day of operation, it was reported.

21-year-old journalism student, Jonah Waite inherited the shop after his father, Grayton Waite, died of cancer last month at the age of 59.

Jonah is not interested in running the family business and decided to close up shop.

“My dad and I have talked pretty extensively over the years. He knew it wasn’t something I intended to take over and operate. His intention was to sell it in the next couple of years and fully retire. He didn’t have time to do that.”

In 2007, US Senator, Jack Reed and the then Governor Donald Carcieri proclaimed Gray’s as the oldest continuously run general store in the country.

“Up until about five years ago my dad and I prided ourselves on it still being sold for a penny. Now with inflation it’s about five cents. We’ve always had candy and cigar customers; there are certain things that my dad has maintained.”

Jonah is undecided on what he will do with the property now which includes his family home that connects to the rear of the store.

Published on July 30, 2012

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