General Store Inspiration: Mercantile Interior Photo Tour

Inspired_Barn_General_Store_TourIf you’ve seen my workshop studio, Inspired Barn, in magazines, online, or in person, it’s likely pretty obvious where my number-one inspiration comes from- early general stores and mercantiles.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_02

Photo courtesy of Captain Simos Returns.

I’ve long been attracted to photographs showcasing proud shopkeepers and customers  posed within tidy, well-stocked emporiums that stocked everything from overalls and tobacco to fabrics and soaps.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_01

Photo courtesy of Dean Joseph Fine Art and Antiques.

Counters, shelves, cases, drawers and bins filled with neatly arranged and stacked goods, much of which was packaged and labeled with the most excellent design and typography. With over 20 years as a career graphic designer specializing in branding and packaging– that’s definitely my thing.

suttercreekold18So imagine my pure delight to happened upon the Monteverde General Merchants store in Sutter Creek, California a couple of years ago. Started in 1898, this store is now a museum of many of the original relics of the past.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_49x Most everything is still neatly stacked and stored as a window into Gold Country’s past and remains spectacular inspiration for the present.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_49 Much of the store’s merchandise dates back to the early 20th century, with a few current items from the early ’70s that the late Rose Monteverde left on the shelves in hopes of the store one day becoming a museum.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_45 If you happen to be in Sutter Creek, simply call the phone number on the sign taped to the front window and a nice gentleman will walk down from his nearby home to open it up for you to explore.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_07I toured this magnificent general store with my husband and my camera and just came across these stored photos the other day. So whether you’re into vintage-inspired graphic design, good ol’ vintage goods, or simply love to organize stuff, I hope you’ll enjoy my personal photo tour of the Monteverde General Store.

Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_03Sunbrite Cleanser, stockings, and shoe repair. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_04Double paper roll dispenser No. 1.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_05Counter glass case filled with confections. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_06Union Farm and Garden Tools broom and tool handles display. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_10General store shelves food items.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_08Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_09  Soap and soap packaging. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_11Canned fruits, mason jars, caps and rings.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_12 Cigars, cigar boxes, tobacco goods. Bird food & supplies.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_13The general store scale.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_15Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_39Bins, drawers and shelves. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_40Beautiful vintage hardware.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_16The storekeeper’s nook. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_29 Handwritten store ledgers.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_33 Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_34Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_17Double paper roll dispenser No. 2. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_18 Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_19 Fuller brand linseed oil barrel.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_20 Mooreknit children’s hose.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_21The haberdashery section of the store featuring silk satin tafeta and cotton tatting thread.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_22J&P Coats embroidery and Royal Society crochet cotton threads.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_23Dennison Gummed Labels.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_24The library.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_25Boxes and crates, printed and stenciled.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_26Children’s rubber boots, and shoe thread.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_27Clothing: Men’s dress, work and sleep shirts.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_28Seidlitz Powder.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_30Fontana’s Semolina plain noodles, wide. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_31Schrader’s Insecticide Powder. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_36Roach poison.
Medicinal herbs: Sanicle. Elmo Cucumber Cream.   Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_37 Par, Palmolive, Crystal White, P and G, and 20 Mule Team soaps.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_38Vintage jar examples.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_41Juan de Fuca and Londres cigar boxesInspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_42 Store receipt pad.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_43Notary embosser. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_44 Double paper roll dispenser No. 1.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_47Trupak mixed bird food. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_48Shelby hardware hinge.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_46I’m looking forward to visiting again.

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11 Responses to General Store Inspiration: Mercantile Interior Photo Tour

  1. #1 - Kathy says:

    These are fabulous photos! I love them!!

  2. #2 - debbie mccormick says:

    What a treat! Thanks for the tour. The old general store in Geyserville is as close to this place that I can think of.

  3. #3 - Aimee Peterson says:

    Hope you come back to Sutter Creek again soon!!

  4. #4 - Andrea Slack says:

    My grandparents actually owned a General Store in Kentucky. It burned down when I was 5, but I remember it. The Tootsie Rolls were the long, skinny kind and I would mess up the bean barrels and I would go barefoot and my feet would be “coal black”(from the coal stove)!
    I have a replica “General Store” that my mom collected for me. It was from the Franklin Mint and it has most every item shown in your pictures, one of my most favorite things!

  5. #5 - Emily Abramson says:

    cathe, you must have been in heaven. such a fabulous post. i found myself drooling at one point. 🙂

  6. #6 - Jerri says:


  7. Oh, I just love those old stores. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to re-look at these photos when I have more time. Wonderful!

  8. #8 - Michelle E. Black says:

    This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this! Now I want to go on a field trip! ROAD TRIP!

  9. #9 - Ginger says:

    Oh, Cathe, you’re a kindred spirit! I come from mercantile/general store stock myself (my great grandfather ran a mercantile in North Dakota in the early part of the 20th century), and I supposed it’s just in my blood. I have always been enamored of well-stocked, interesting grocery and hardware stores, and it must come from a hereditary love of the simple supplies that help make a life.

    I posted a few photos of his general store a few years ago, when I aspired to open a business of my own. That’s been on hold until this year, when things have suddenly allowed me more time to play with this pipe dream. Here’s the link to the photos, if you’re interested!

  10. #10 - Cindy Griffis says:

    Hello Cathe,
    I happened to stop by your blog this evening; I haven’t received an update in months, though I’ve updated my subscription a couple times.
    I was surprised at how few posts there were to this latest post…with your talent and the promise of products to buy, I would expect to have seen many more comments. Have you considered checking with your web service to see why they aren’t sending out the blog post notifications? Just a thought…

  11. #11 - Leslie says:

    Thanks so much for posting these wonderful photos! They really got my creative wheels turning…