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Why You Should Visit Wilbur's General Store in Little Compton, Rhode Island

Wilbur General Store, Little Compton RI
Wilbur General Store in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Article by Eric J. Hurwitz. Article created on June 15, 2017.

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They don't make them like the Wilbur's General Store anymore. Thanks goodness for that, in the very best sense.

A classic, historic New England general store, the Wilbur's General Store dates back to 1893 and remains, to this very day, the "anchor store" of tiny yet beautiful Little Compton.  From the outside, it looks as small as most convenient stores, but take a walk inside and it's surprisingly spacious. Eight rooms ultimately reveal everything you need, and then some.

This locally-owned local retail treasure with the green awning, benches and American flag outside actually surpasses the amount of merchandise I have seen in any general store in the southern New England area. Wilbur's General Store not only stocks a full grocery store, and offers great baked goods, specialty foods and an impressive meat counter with fresh meats cut to order, but also sells books, cards, clothing, gifts, tableware and toys. They also feature a very good hardware department section. It's like many of the "nooks and crannies" variety stores I loved while on vacation as a kid where you would never know what the next step would bring but innately knowing it was all good.

It's great that a local store fills a purpose for year-round and seasonal residents, as well as travelers, but the Wilbur's General Store offers another element that can never be fully measured solely through the merchandise. The importance of community is probably the most wonderful feeling here. Locals make this their place to shop, converse and connect. Feeling like one big family gathering rather than just another retail shopping experience, the staff harks back to the days of prioritizing customer service, pride of ownership and employment. The pace is leisurely, the local vibe small-town friendly and the prospects for a gentler, kinder world well intact in a world that seems to have gone in the other direction. It's a beautiful feeling shopping in a warm and inviting place that temporarily takes you away from fast pace of our society just a few miles up the road. Friendly voices fill the otherwise still, silent vibe of the store rather than some loud, piped in streaming music with songs you never wanted to hear again.

While it is true that very few stores in this coastal area fill several purposes under one roof, the Wilbur's General Store would still be the go-to place even if more retail saturated the pristine, lovely FarmCoast area (where farms meet the sea in a wonderful way). Nothing could surpass authenticity and sincerity and when it's combined with a store that, as mentioned, fills an important need, well, that's just hard to beat. Proof: it has been nearly a year since going to the Wilbur's General Store and it still lingers prominently in my New England travel memories. Now, when was the last time a general retail store did that?

Wilbur's General Store is located at 50 The Commons in Little Compton, RI. Tel. (401) 635-2356. Be sure to also check out the Wilbur's General Store Facebook page!


Additionally, check out the section on the FarmCoast in our 6 hidden travel gems in New England article.


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Books by VisitingNewEngland.com Publisher Eric Hurwitz

Massachusetts Town Greens -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons!

The Best Diners in New England -- If you love classic diners, New England has them! In my book, I write in detail on 50 top local diners.


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