General Store Up for Sale in New York Village

It's the passing of an era in the upstate New York village of Crogan. The local general store has been in business for more than a century, but the store's owners have put it up for sale.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

In Upstate New York, a bit of history is up for sale. One of the last old-fashioned general stores in the nation has been put on the market by the family that has owned it since 1874. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES reporting:

E.M. Marilley and Company, a three-story brownstone, stands proudly on Croghan's Main Street. Eighty-one year old Jim Marilley's granddad was the first owner.

Mr. JIM MARILLEY (Owner, E.M. Marilley and Company): I've been making the decisions since 1962.

KEYES: Locals say the building has the kind of hardwood floors that creak when you walk. The oak shelving that lines the walls along with the cabinets and counters went up around 1912.

Mr. MARILLEY: We got a lot of Johnson and Woolrich woolens, brown eggs, we have cast-iron ware and aluminum ware and enamel ware.

Ms. MARIA LARGETT (Employee, E.M. Marilley and Company): And up until about ten years ago we had button-up shoes.

KEYES: Maria Largett(ph) took a part-time job here when she was in high school 26 years ago. She never left.

Ms. LARGETT: We have barrels of resin downstairs that's used to take the hair off pigs when you butcher them, barrels of nails, barrels of horseshoes.

Mr. MARILLEY: Yeah, we still got some. I can remember when I was a kid, every month we'd get, oh, probably 60, 70 pounds of them.

KEYES: But he says his favorite merchandise is...

Mr. MARILLEY: Cheese, aged cheese. I try to get it as old as I can get it.

KEYES: The store was so famous in the area that people came from miles around to see it. It's where Kate Marilley met the man she married in 1953.

Ms. KATE MARILLEY (Wife of Jim Marilley): We were in the area and my folks decided to drive up and take a look at the store and that's when I met my husband. He was in the store working.

KEYES: The general store fit right into the tiny village 35 miles from the Canadian border. It's an old-fashioned town with wooden houses built for big families surrounded by the homesteads of farmers and loggers.

Ms. CAROL SCHNEEBERGER (Village Historian, Croghan, New York): You could actually say we're a little bit like Mayberry.

KEYES: Village historian Carol Schneeberger says it's the kind of place where you still see horses and wagons and people sitting on their front porches. She says Marilley's is an icon and people there will miss it.

Ms. SCHNEEBERGER: So it's going to be a big change. I mean without them, Croghan just isn't the same.

KEYES: But the store's Maria Largett says times have changed and instead of the bustling business this used to be, now it is haunted by a few loyal customers and tourists.

Ms. LARGETT: This was the grocery store. This was the hardware store. This was the clothing store. And now there's so many different places to shop.

KEYES: But the Marilleys are hoping someone will pay a half-million dollars to buy the whole store and an adjoining home, lock, stock and barrel. Kate Marilley thinks maybe one of the tourists who come to snowmobile might turn the property into a bed and breakfast. After all, they say, people come to browse and look for treasured things they might not be able to find anywhere else. Allison Keyes, NPR News.

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