“Shopping in Morrow County” presented by Stan Sipe
Stan began by talking about the general stores which were located at main intersections throughout the county from the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s. The first recorded one was in Peru Township in 1818. These stores offered a variety of goods from foodstuffs to hardware. They also housed post offices and served as community gathering places. The advent of automobiles caused their demise but recent years have seen the construction of Dollar General and Family Dollar stores across the county.
As the populations of Mt. Gilead and Cardington grew, department stores were established. Cardington had Donnovan Brothers and the Peoples Store. The most prominent and longest surviving department store in the county was the Union Store in Mt. Gilead which opened in 1915 and lasted until 1987. It sold a full range of clothing items, toys and groceries. It’s shoe department sold 12,000 pairs in 1961. The Union Store was the star attraction of the town’s annual Sidewalk Sales which began in 1958.
During the period from 1960 to 1980, Stan’s statistics showed Mt. Gilead was home to: 3 clothing stores (the Union, the White House, and Stull’s Men’s Shop), 3 appliance stores, 4 auto sales, 6 groceries, 2 pharmacies, 3 shoe stores, and 10 gas stations. Local customer loyalty dwindled following the construction of Interstate 71 and sadly many of these businesses closed.
Stan accompanied his presentation with a display of vintage photos and advertisements.