Guess I've teased you long enough. . .I think it's time I give you a peek at what we call our Company Store. . .But first, I need to give you a little history lesson. . .
Most larger farms and plantations in the Delta maintained what was called a Company Store that was located within the farm complex. . .Anyone who sharecropped or worked for the 'company' was expected to buy from that store. . .Often prices were inflated but at the same time, most farm workers didn't have the money to maintain themselves and their family through the year. . .So the Company would issue credit to them and "settle up" when the crops came in and were sold. . .Of course, the Company did all the selling so they could withhold any money to pay the outstanding bills. . .On most farm/plantations, the store might be open to the public also--for cash sales. . .A few plantation stores were warehouses that opened 1-2 days per week only for anyone associated with the farm.
Granddaddy never actually owned a Company Store. . .While he had quite a bit of acreage, his farms were scattered throughout Mississippi Country, each with a farm complex of it's own. . .If a store was located at any of the complexes, it was run by someone not directly connected to the farm. . .but they were required to rent the building from Granddaddy.
In order to preserve a part of our Delta history and to teach visitors the plantation system, we moved the C. A. Smith Grocery from Dell to the Duncan Farmstead. . .The exterior is preserved as it was when C. A. ran the store in Dell. . .The interior is not. . .It reflects a Company Store during the Depression Era. . .
Granddaddy actually constructed the original building ca. 1919 for the black community in Dell. . .Someone in the Magers family has always owned it from 1919 to the present day. . .It was rented to the store keepers. . .Sometime in the late 40s, when mechanization took over the farms and the black community began to leave, C. A. took over the grocery and remained there until he retired ca 1975. . . The building was rented from then on mostly for storage.
When we moved the building to our farmstead, it was nothing but a shell. . .an empty building. . .John did all the carpentry, electrical work, and general renovations. . .It took four years to complete.
Through the generous donations from Marguarite Brownlee in Dell, we have an original Post Office from Dell, vintage glass displays and a wooden counter from the Brownlee Store in Dell, and many other vintage items and displays. Our center display table came from the old Dell School, which was built back in 1935 after a tornado ripped through Dell and destroyed much of the original building.
We have also been blessed by others who have donated a number of goods and pieces of history, including Katherine Bowen of Gosnell, Doris Bryaens of Gosnell, Sandra Carpenter of Dell, Joe Chipman of Manila, Don Davis of Blytheville, The Dilldine Farm of Half Moon, Bobby Hogan of Dell, and Kenny Jackson of Dell. . .as well as family items from Aunt Mamie Griffin, Aunt Naoma Gill, Great Aunt Pearl Magers Sheppard, Earl and Alice Magers, Curtis and Irene Duncan, and our own personal collections.
So with all that said, here's a peek at the inside of our Duncan Farmstead Company Store. . . .You know what you have to do to see the rest. . . .
I'll feature the Post Office in a future post, as well as the Company Office.
but, that's another story for another day. . .
Be looking for it soon. . . . . .
LIFE IS GOOD