Current Owners

Tom and Heather met in 1993 while working at the Shasta Mall in Redding California. Tom worked at Kaybee Toys and Heather worked at Round Table Pizza. After moving to Portland Oregon in 1994 they both worked various jobs while working their way through school and eventually both ended up in the electronics industry working at different companies. During this time they had two children, Thomas and Logan. After 22 years in Portland Tom and Heather wanted something different. Growing up in small towns had left it’s mark and now it was time to go back to that kind of life. With childhood experience as his only guide Tom had always wanted to own a grocery store in a small town and when the opportunity arose they walked away from the corporate world, moved to Williams Oregon and took over ownership of the Williams General Store.

Our Vision

The concept of the general store in the United States is very old dating back to the late 1700’s.  Gray’s General Store in Adamsville, Rhode Island was considered the oldest continually operating general store in the United States until it closed in 2012 after 224 years.  Throughout the 1800’s the general store was the main shopping experience for rural America.  Although people now look back on the general stores with nostalgia in their heyday these stores were at the forefront of modern innovation.  It was something special when the local general store was able to bring in products from all over the world from the latest fashions in clothing to basic plumbing supplies to the newest items that could make life a little easier for people in simple rural communities.  In many of these small communities the general store would even be the only source of credit for farmers until the cash crops came in, typically cotton or tobacco in the south.  Between 1820 and 1860 is considered the golden era for the general store.  While they continued to thrive throughout the rest of the century it was in 1893 that they began their inevitable downfall when Sears, Roebuck & Co. began their mail ordering catalog.  Thru their catalog, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was able to offer more products at lower prices than the local general store could.  At the turn of the century with the general stores already in decline the rise of the automobile only accelerated the situation by enabling people to travel more easily to the larger cities.  The general stores were closing up all over the country, being replaced by specialty stores able to offer more variety of specific products instead of a general supply of basic goods.  These types of stores themselves would face extinction with the advent of the big box stores.  By the end of the twentieth century the general store was all but a memory with most of the remaining general stores resembling living museums more than service-oriented hubs of rural communities.

Here at the Williams General Store we are carrying on the tradition of the classic general store, not as a museum but as a living breathing part of the community.  We put our efforts into supplying the town of Williams with quality products at the best prices we can.  It’s tough in the modern world of the big box stores so we have chosen to focus on the grocery part of the general store.  The younger generation may not think of a small place like this as a full grocery store when they see larger ones everywhere but there was a time when little markets like these were the grocery stores for most Americans.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget why the larger stores are called ‘super’ markets.

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