Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where I Went Today: Calef's Country Store

When I was coming up with feature ideas for YCIYWT, plenty of plan-ahead features sprang to mind—book reviews, interviews, product endorsements. Far fewer ideas were ones I could produce over and over in real time—a dilemma, since blog-readers tend to expect real-time information, and real-time writing is probably the ultimate perk of being a blogger. You see something, inspiration strikes—and you can use it immediately! 

I’m not sure when the idea for “Where I Went Today” showed up on the map, but when it did, I knew I loved it. I planned to visit small businesses, anyway, scouting out candidates for my monthly exposés. What better way to share the process than to detail my experiences through a feature?

Calef’s Country Store was not necessarily planned to be the first stop. But when I think on it, nothing could be more fitting. It might be the first small business I ever talked up, made a point to support, and eagerly looked forward to visiting throughout my childhood and teen years. 

Calef’s Country Store plays a starring role in the cast of shops on what’s known as Calef’s Corner, in Barrington, NH where Route 9 and 125 come together. Other businesses owned by the family that has presided there for five generations are across the street on both sides, but the country store is by far the best. It’s the closest thing you’ll ever find to an authentic general store. Just as when the shop opened in the 1860’s, for sale are aged cheese, pickles in barrels, and penny candy. For those things alone, I would trek an hour out of my way.

But also on their shelves are local breads, whoopee pies, teas, jams, maple syrup, dozens of hot sauces, soup kits, dog biscuits, locally-crafted soaps and pottery and cutting boards, fudge, homemade candies, and local honey. You could loop the shop four times and not see all there is to see. My favorite time of year to visit is Christmas, because I can find unique stocking-stuffers and gift-basket items that I know won’t be duplicated by someone else.

For today’s trip I was able to recruit my creative partner, Cole, to come along for the ride. He’s the jolly good fellow in the photos.

We hopped in his new Kia Sportage and enjoyed a whole morning with the top down. I had a couple of coupons for free whoopee pies, which made the trip that much sweeter. I also picked up a mug as a souvenir. 

While we were out we brainstormed some other small businesses to visit. We plan to document these trips through photos of us in our Toms. (Toms Shoes isn't a small business, but it's a great cause that we both believe in. We'd love to see where your Toms take you, too.) You can follow along using #whereiwenttoday on Instagram. If you know a place we should visit, let us know here

That kicks off this feature! Looking forward to sharing another small business with you soon. Until then, shop local!

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