LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. July 29, 2012 (AP)
Gray’s Store in Adamsville village brought in customers for years with its old-fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnny cakes.
The 224-year-old business may be the oldest operating general store in America, although others have staked similar claims. The Rhode Island store near the Massachusetts line opened in 1788. Now owners say this year is its last.
Gray’s is set to close Sunday afternoon.
Owner Jonah Waite inherited the shop after his father died of cancer last month. He said Saturday it was a hard decision to close the store and leave behind all the history, but the shop’s finances aren’t sustainable and a supermarket down the street has siphoned away business.
Waite, 21, who will be a senior at the University of Hartford in Connecticut in the fall, also is consumed with pursuing a career in sports journalism.
“Obviously, I understand the historical aspect of it, and I would really love to keep it the way it is, but it doesn’t seem to me that that’s the most feasible option,” Waite said. “With the economy … the place has lost its attraction, lost its luster.”
Sad news in Little Compton (not to be confused with Compton of NWA fame).
My family has gone to Gray’s for ice cream for years. What a bummer. Adamsville is kind of part of Little Compton. For those who don’t know Little Compton, it’s a haven for preps who have 2nd homes. Is it really prep? Put it this way: one of my classmates has a house there and his name is Ned Teddy. It looks like the end of the line for Gray’s. Too bad!