The general store of the 19th and early 20th century carried a wide variety of goods, including groceries. In the United States the general store succeeded the trading post, which served the pioneers and early settlers. Products sold by the general store included food, clothing, housewares and farm equipment. Because money was scarce in many rural areas, some of the trade was accomplished through barter.
Because produce from the land and forest tended to yield a seasonal return, the storekeeper might also extend credit of from six months to a year to his customers. The general store also served as a place for members of the community to meet. The storekeeper was an important member of this community. He supplied material goods and was the source of news and gossip.
The American general store flourished throughout the 19th century but declined rapidly in the 20th century, with the advent of catalog sales, rural free delivery, and chain stores, particularly after the 1920s. Many of the products exhibited would have been sold in a general store.