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2010 — Timeless Values at General Store {download pdf }

2003 — Life's Good at Alumni Country Stores: Ed Washburn's Country Store {download pdf }

1998 — Washburn Rich with Picturesque Beauty {download pdf }

1994 — General Store Maintains Friendly Service Tradition {download pdf }

1987 — A Visit to Washburn's Store is a trip back in time; Cider from the Press {download pdf }

1987 — Backroads Traveling {download pdf }

Right Next Door to the General Store: The Washburn Family offers more than groceries. They'll also help you plan a funeral. {download pdf }

1939 — Rutherford Store is 100 Years Old {download pdf }

1863 — Rueben's Appointment as a Deacon of the Methodist Church {download pdf }

 

Timeless Values at General Store
By Jean Gordon 

BOSTIC—Washburn General Store will open at itsregular time today, Black Friday, and will close
at 4:30 p.m., so no one has to show up at 4 a.m.

Ann Washburn Hutchins expects the regular flow of customers Friday, as well as the Christmas shoppers. Retired three years ago from teaching at Sunshine school, Ann is the first to arrive in the morning with the store dog, Archie.

Saturday, two days after the store was featured on UNC-TV, there were plenty of tourists.
A Greenville, S.C., couple who was in Forest City, stopped to ask directions to Cherry Mountain Street as they were [en route] to Washburn Store. They had seen the television show and could hardly wait to get there.

For weeks now Hutchins has been packing Christmas candy in plastic bags. I can’t sleep at night for carpal tunnel and having to pack all this candy,” she said. Ed Washburn ordered 68 cases of Christmas candy, and its up to Ann to unpack all the boxes and make separate bags of traditional Christmas candy.

Beside the traditional peppermint sticks, other favorites are coconut bon bons, peanut brittle, orange slices, maple nut clusters, vanilla nut clusters, peanut squares, molasses mint, grape, pineapple, strawberry, peppermint, wintergreen, peach, peanut butter, and lemon sticks. Horehound candy is still a favorite Christmas candy. “We cannot keep this,” she said, “We are almost out again.”

Another favorite of Christmas shoppers is a large array of John Deere toys, clothing, and household items, such as clocks. “This seems to have picked up this year, too” There are 96 sleds for sale as well as other toys.

A local woman sews “Little House on the Prairie” type bonnets and homemade aprons. “She takes all the money she makes from this and gives it to the mission offering at her church,” Hutchins said.

“One woman from Connecticut came by the other day on her way home for Thanksgiving,” Hutchins began. “She bought one of the bonnets and said she is wearing in the airport to meet her family. She told us when she gets off the plane she’ll say, ‘Hey, Y’all,’ dressed in her bonnet.”
Other Christmas gift favorites are the Red Enamel and Speckle Enamel dishes, Corinthian Bells; overalls, Lodge cast-iron skillets and other cast iron items.

There is an apple cider mill, a round butter churn, a wine press and a grist mill, and weather vanes for sale. “And these sell,” she said. “Sometimes brother{s} or sisters will come in and put their money together to buy something for daddy,” she said.

One family who bought a weather vane later shot a photograph of the vane being installed on the house and sent it to Washburn. Ann Hutchings believes in shopping local, and she and her husband, Bill, have been trying new restaurants in Forest City.

“We trade with them and then they trade with us.” No tour buses are scheduled for Black Friday, although it wouldn’t be unusual for a tour bus to show up. “We had three in one day,” she said. “Thursdays are usually tour-buss days.” People from across the country, state, and Southeast come to Washburn’s General Store because it is different than a lot of other stores.

And while tourists enjoy the items not found in other places, the locals come daily for necessities such as oil, and food. “In this economy, they buy the things they need,” she said. “A man came in the other day for roofing cement.” Near the front of the store are jars of canned jelly, relish, chow chow, cider and sauces.

“We sent a case of one of everything to Jacksonville, Fla., last week,” Hutchins said. Since it is all North Carolina grown, the shopper was sending the case to a North Carolina friend.

“We are selling more marbles than ever before,” she said. “Grandparents come in and want to buy toys for their grandkids they used to play with. They want to get them away from the videos and computers,” Ann said.

On the shelf with the marbles are Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Gismos and other toys shoppers may have looked over [for] such things [as] iPods, iPads, cell phones, and video games. Such electronics are not available at Washburn General Store.

Lunch shoppers, even on Black Friday, can have a fresh-made bologna sandwich on white bread with mayo , mustard, onion, lettuce and tomato, or a chunk of hoop cheese. The sandwiches are prepared by Ann or her parents.

“We close on church days, Wednesday and Sunday,” Hutchins said. “But we’re open all the other days from 9 until 4:30,” she said.

 

 

Backroads Traveling
By Judy Ausley            

Everytime I drive along the old Sunshine Highway throught the Rutherford County countryside, I am reminded of flowers.  Perhaps, it is the sunshine, the Golden Valley as it is called by locals, but mostly, because of the rolling hills and pastures filled with grazing animals.

It is one of the most historic parts of Rutherford County and it sparkles whether it be in the hot summer’s heat or in the chilled days of autumn and winter.

One of the most notable landmarks along the way is the old E.N. Washburn Store owned and operated by the Edward Washburn family for four generations. The store, built in 1813, is the oldest family-owned business in Rutherford County.

It is a place where you can buy everything from a tack to old fashioned wash board just like grandma toiled over, to churns, horse collars, feed and seed, hoop cheese, old fashioned stick candy, [pickling] jars like granny used, apple peeler, Bib overalls and much, much more!

Snuff, chewing tobacco and Geritol too, I bet! It is a place where once you leave, after a friendly visit with Ed Washburn, you won’t need that dose of medicine. I stopped in the other day, just as Ed, who is recovering from heart surgery, was trying to close to go home, but the people just kept on coming in and the phone kept ringing. “The doctor says I have got to slow down, but I just don’t see how,” the friendly Washburn said, as he bagged a customer’s goods.

I often tell him how my parents were running a grocery store in Florida when I was born.  And, I often say that is what draws me to old country stores. Ed said since I liked that store environment so much, I should come work for him. Maybe so, I thought.  But, you know, I would rather keep on doing what I am doing writing about places along the back roads like Washburn’s Store.

In the 1800’s before the store, the place was known as Washburn Station, a stagecoach stop for folks traveling to Lincoln County and other foothill destinations. Just imagine riding in a horse-drawn stagecoach down Sunshine Highway before it was paved.  Women in capes and black hats tied under the chin.  Men in snug pants held in place at the waist with sturdy suspenders.

It is beautiful today, but I can imagine the beauty of those early times.  What a time it must have been. The residing Ed Washburn has heard those stories all his life.  And, he can recite the history with all dates correct and in place.

It is folks like Ed Washburn that makes what I do so interesting.  Without those people, I would not have Backroad Traveling, because I can always find something to write about in the old store on the country backroads in this area.

And, for sure E.N. Washburn’s Store is a place to make a good day trip that the entire family, kids and dad, too, will enjoy.  The trip and a step back into another day is bound to make you feel better.

Store Interior in 1973

A visit to Washburn’s Store is a trip back in time
By Mary Ann Claud (Times-New Columnist)

There are place you must see if you are to understand the old ways of life in the rural South, and there are roads you should travel because they will not stay the same forever.  The Bostic Golden Valley Road in Rutherford County is one of those roads, and the stop you don’t want to miss is Washburn.

Although the nearest post office is in Bostic, never mind; Washburn is a place in it’s own right whether the U.S.  Government knows it or not.  There are two local points in Washburn.  The first is a stately brick house, bigger and finer than anything else on Bostic-Golden Valley Road.  Surrounded on three sides by two-story porches, it is a landmark which has sheltered the Washburn’s since it was built in 1915.  The Washburn House has 12 rooms and nine fireplaces, all made of tile and oak, and all different.

Just across the road, Washburn’s Store stands in humble contrast.  Don’t be deceived by its modesty, for inside you will find a treasure house.  You will also find the fourth generation of Washburns, Edward and his wife Catherine, in the fourth building to house Washburn’s Store.

Washburn’s contains everything you might expect to find in a country store.  There are dozens of gadgets whose shape and function are lost on the Cuisinart generation – things like corn shellers, cherry pitters, and churn dashers.  Perhaps Washburn’s greatest treasure is the daily sales diary of Rueben Washburn dated 1887.  Rueben was Washburn’s second proprietor.  The first, Benjamin, opened the store shortly after arriving from Cleveland County in 1831.

At Washburn’s Store, seed is kept, as it always has been, in a 10-gallon ceramic pot.   It is weighed on hand scales with individual weights.

Older men from the community gather daily for conversation and coffee.  The kerosene pump, back at the end of the lefthand aisle, is on of only three left in North Carolina.  Donna King, who works in the store and covers for the Washburns when they are busy at the mortuary next door, says it got a fine workout during the snowstorms of the past winter. 

“Mostly we sell hardware, the groceries are just for convenience,” says Edward Washburn.  Canned goods line the shelves on one of the five aisles that run the length of the store, and near the chiller, a brook rack hangs like a giant witch’s cap from the tin ceiling.

To eyes grown weary of glossy catalogues and color-coordinated displays, every aisle yields a surprise.  There are wooden rockers, oil lamps, a hand plow leaning against a partially crated Zenith color TV set and a lady’s corset of 19th Century vintage sits high on a shelf.  There are harnesses, wooden biscuit cutters and a thousand things to handle and remark about.

But most of all, in Washburn’s Store there is conviviality, and time, and a place for the past to coexist with the present.  “We’re open six days a week from 8 til 6.  Come back and see us,” says Donna King.

Try a taste of the Wisconsin Cheddar while you’re there, it’s on the house.  Just remember to put the knife back in the water glass.

Wofford Today
Fall '03

Life's Good at Alumni Country Stores: Ed Washburn's Country Store

In 1831, Benjamin Washburn opened a tavern on the stagecoach road between Rutherford and Lincoln Counties in North Carolina. Today, eight generations later, Washburn’s store stands on almost the exact spot, which is now labeled 2426 Bostic-Sunshine Highway. It belongs to Ed Washburn ’52 (graduated in 1952 from Wofford College) and his wife, Catherine. The present brick building dates from 1925.

Across the street from the store is the family home place, a mansion by standards of any time and locality. Erected by Ed’s grandfather for a Texas bride, it was completed in 1914 at a cost of $8,055.49, according to the original charge book in the store office. A two-story verandah with a view of horses grazing in a rolling pasture, bricks that were carefully hauled over the mountains from Tennessee, dark woodwork that lines a stately entrance hall, and wonderful family antiques and photographs make the home a truly memorable visit.

When we arrived in Washburn one morning in August, Ed shared some of his memories of student life on the Wofford Campus. As a freshman, he struggled to adjust to college academics. Eventually, he decided to join the Air Force and begin married life with Catherine, his childhood sweetheart. When he was discharged, he asked the late Frank Logan ’41 for another chance to earn a Wofford degree and made the most of it. “We enjoyed our time together at the college,” he remembers. “We lived in apartments moved in from Camp Croft and set up on the north side of Main Building for use by married students and young faculty families. They were convenient, but they could be uncomfortable on a hot day — no air conditioning in those days.”

Returning to North Carolina, Ed became involved in the managing of the family businesses. Until very recently, he was a licensed funeral director, operating a mulit-generation professional establishment that was a natural byproduct of selling coffins to families giving up the old tradition of burying their dead in home-made pine boxes.

The Washburns also held a block of stock in the First State Bank of Bostic, which remarkably survived the Great Depression. “My grandfather, Nollie, picked up on the fact that people were about to start a run on his bank,” Ed recalls. “He took the train from Bostic to the Federal Reserve in Charlotte and brought back two satchels filled with cash. He called the mail carriers and had them count it. On their routes the next day, they told everyone the bank had cash in the vault and was sound. Meanwhile, we had family in Forest City who lost everything they had in a bank failure.”

The Bostic State Bank eventually became part of Wachovia, but today the old safe (compared by a recent writer to an armored washing machine) has a place of honor in the Washburn store.
Before we left, Ed offered us one of Bessie Smith’s famous bologna, hoop cheese, and fresh lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches. Having read about this delicacy in an article in the January 2003 issue of Our State magazine, we eagerly accepted, along with a Coke in the classic, returnable bottle. Life was good.

OPEN Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 9am–4:30pm and Sat 9am–3pm; CLOSED WED & SUN
828.245.4129 or WashburnStore@gmail.com

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