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S.; Laura and M’Lue, the great food, the light, the view, the hot gossip, the daydreaming …Thanks for all the love.” Even children write in the book, like one child who used orange and green markers to say, “I like the general store because my dad went here when he was little with his mom my grandma and she died a couple of months ago … who fell off a roof on a winter day but he’s still alive.” The community-owned model which Harrisville developed has been so appealing that the town has been approached by other municipalities in the state for advice.It solves a lot of problems, including solvency, which newbie general store owner Dan Bellemore, of Goffstown, hopes will not be a problem for him.The Mont Vernon General Store is the only store in this small and incredibly quaint town. Over the past few years others have tried to make a go of it, even sinking lots of money into renovations, but couldn’t make it work.When Elizabeth Landry dropped into Calef’s Country Store in Barrington for lunch on a recent afternoon, she got much more than “the best beet salad in the world” (.99 a pound). “It’s a tradition,” says the mother of two, who has been going to the store for 25 years. When the kids walk here, all the neighbors look out for them.” Calef’s started as a room in the home of local school teacher Mary Calef in 1869 and stayed in the family for five generations.“It was a rite of passage when my kids got old enough to walk to the store themselves after church on Sunday. Today it’s owned by Greg Bolton and looks pretty much the same as it has since its inception.
Owning a country store is a kind of fantasy, says Bolton, who had a career in the food services industry. Calef’s has successfully established its brand (including the rough calligraphic logo) on a variety of products and has a website so that people from all over the world can have a little bit of that old-time feeling in the form of Calef’s merchandise shipped to their homes.Still others serve as suburban way stations — providing hot coffee, a donut and a warm hello to bolster those hitting the highway for a day’s work.And then there are those who have adapted to the times but remain essentially unreconstructed since their beginnings in previous centuries. At their beginnings, general — or country — stores transformed scattered farms into communities.There’s a chicken on the front with the store’s name and on the back in large white letters is the word “Local.” On the back counter, where visitors plug in laptops to access the free wi-fi, there’s also notebook titled “Store Thoughts” inviting patrons to say what the Harrisville store means to them.One customer wrote: “I love everything about Harrisville G.