Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Goodbye, Thompson’s General Store

For a little over a year now, Elaine and I have been stopping by Thompson’s General Store in Camargo, Illinois (population 449). The store was started in 1946 by Opal and Ralph Thompson, the parents of Jack Thompson, who now runs the store with his daughter. Jack has a terrific meat counter: he grinds hamburger, slices liverwurst, and writes prices on butcher paper. The store even lets locals run a tab: I know, because I asked about the cheese box full of worn cards behind the counter.

When we stopped by Thompson’s today, the store was closed. And then we saw the notice on the door: Thompson’s is closing for keeps this coming Saturday. Here is an article that explains. Long story short: too many Camargo residents are doing their shopping outside Camargo. Now they’ll be able to do all their shopping outside Camargo. “Don’t it always seem to go,” &c.

Goodbye, Thompson’s General Store. Thank you for the memories.

comments: 2

Berit said...

What a blow!!! Furthermore, the article describes it as the town's hub for cemetery records and water service! I mean, how awful!

I feel really blessed to have finally found a butcher I think is truly great in Perotti's (Cranford, NJ). It is a drive for me (Bloomfield), but I go almost every week 1-2 times. They seem to be doing very well, and I hope they continue to do so.

They also write prices and weights on red butcher paper (white for cold cuts), and the man who founded it at age 20 in the 1960's is still behind the counter with his two sons--though his brother has retired. They feature many Italian specialties which started as accompaniments to the meat but are now of landslide popularity. The eggplant parm is a heavenly concoction--like a cheese lasagna but with super-thin light eggplant slices instead of noodles. This past Lenten season's "Meatless" Friday Special, the Tunafish salad, was so popular it's staying on. Among the jars of store-made sauces are "pickled long-hots in oil" made by an aunt using peppers she grows in her garden. Also occasional in the fridge are pierogi—I was told they are hand-made by an aunt (I pressure the same) at her kitchen table.

I am something of a value hound—aforementioned eggplant parmigiana tray costs $6 or 7.99 and feeds 2 giant servings or 4 sides—that is what keeps me coming to this place! Long may they prosper!

Michael Leddy said...

“Long may they prosper!” And how. You have to have customers that appreciate what you’re offering. It sounds like you’d have a field day on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.