New England’s General Stores: Exploring an American Classic – Author Event with Ted Reinstein


Tuesday, July 17, 7:00-8:30 PM

The general store is literally as old as America itself. It harkens back to a simpler time and a more innocent and rural nation. It conjures a country-like place where kids come in to by penny candy, and adults to buy everything from swaths of fabric, to fresh vegetables, to four-penny nails. It was a place to pick up mail, the newspaper, and perhaps tarry a bit on a cold, winter’s morning to chat over a cup of coffee and a warm wood stove. Long before “Cheers,” the general store was the vital and inviting heart of a community, where everyone not only knew your name, but how you took that coffee, how many kids you had, and how’s your dad doing, anyway? And in tough times, it was a place that often treated customers like family, extending credit when no one else would. In short, the general store was real-life Norman Rockwell—deeply woven into America’s cultural identity, an integral part of the nation’s self-portrait from its earliest days.

But over the last 50 years, many of New England’s general stores, competing with behemoths like Walmart and Target, began to disappear. But then a funny thing happened: people really missed them. And in many towns, decided to hold onto them. In talking about New England’s General Stores: Exploring an American Classic, broadcast journalist Ted Reinstein shares the rich and colorful history of this iconic institution, how they figured in the rise of early American commerce, why they began to fade, and why—like another New England icon, the diner—they have begun to
come back and even be re-invented and re-imagined for a new era. Told with
anecdotes from a variety of local landmark stores across the region, the
presentation is accompanied by the award-winning photography of Art Donahue.

Ted Reinstein has been a reporter for “Chronicle,” WCVB-TV/Boston’s award-winning—and America’s longest-running, locally-produced—nightly news magazine since 1997. In addition, he is a regular contributor for the station’s political roundtable show, On the Record, and sits on WCVB’s Editorial Board. New England’s General Stores, co-written with wife, Anne-Marie is his third book. He is also the author of New England Notebook and Wicked Pissed: New England’s Most Famous Feuds. For more information, please visit

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session and book purchase/signing. Registration is not required.

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