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At Hussey's General Store in Windsor, Maine, offbeat merchandise is a specialty. The sign out front says so, in no uncertain terms: "Guns, Wedding Gowns, Cold Beer."At the Mansfield (Conn.) General Store, it's not just basic groceries, takeout sandwiches and antiques. They have live music twice a week, including flamenco guitarists on Friday afternoons.
At Hastings Store in West Danville, Vt., co-owner Garey Larrabee is also the postmaster and cook, running a full-service post office and cooking up old-fashioned doughnuts for the regulars who come in to catch up on gossip and pick up mail, lingering around the wall of boxes with the three-digit dial combination locks.
His wife, whose family has run the place for almost 100 years, is a justice of the peace. She sometimes marries people, right there in the store.
Turns out, New England's general stores aren't as general as they used to be.
With their creaky wooden floors, old-fashioned keepsakes and inventory that runs the gamut from snow shovels to wedding dresses, they rely on nostalgia and creative specialties to compete in a Walmart world.