This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

PT Barnum's Country Store Connection

Speaking of memoirs (previous posts,) check out this article about P.T. Barnum's where he talks about growing up and working in a country store (click here.)  (While I am not too sure just what PT is trying to say when he claims one can learn something "even in a country store," I guess he meant it as a compliment so I'll take it that way.) 

“There Is Something To Be Learned Even in a Country Store”: P.T. Barnum Learns Commerce in a Connecticut Country Store

The country store was an important crossroads in nineteenth-century rural communities. In the decades after the War for Independence, commercial activity increased in the hinterlands as rural residents brought their farm produce to local storekeepers to exchange for commodities (such as rum) that were not produced locally. With cash scarce, much of the trade was conducted by barter and recorded in the merchant’s account books or “daybooks,” and traveling peddlers extended market activity beyond the reach of village stores. It was in this commercializing environment that Phineas Taylor Barnum honed his entrepreneurial skills. Barnum, born in Bethel, Connecticut, in 1810, eventually took his skills to New York City where he achieved fame as a cultural impresario and museum owner. He wrote several autobiographies that became key documents in the substantial nineteenth-century advice literature on how to achieve fame and fortune; this excerpt is drawn from The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written By Himself (1855) where he described his early days in greatest detail.

The entire excerpt is worth reading click here.  But I have excerpted this excerpt from the excerpt (are with me so far?)  where PT wrote:

A country store in the evening, or upon a wet day, is a miserably dull place, so far as trade is concerned. Upon such occasions therefore I had little to do, and I will explain why the time did not hang unpleasantly upon my hands.

In nearly every New-England village, at the time of which I write, there could be found from six to twenty social, jolly, story-telling, joke-playing wags and wits, regular originals, who would get together at the tavern or store, and spend their evenings and stormy afternoons in relating anecdotes, describing their various adventures, playing off practical jokes upon each other, and engaging in every project out of which a little fun could be extracted by village wits whose ideas were usually sharpened at brief intervals by a “ treat,” otherwise known as a glass of Santa Cruz rum, old Holland gin, or Jamaica spirits.

The movie about P.T.'s life and career, The Greatest Showman, did not go into any of his country store connections as a young man.  Instead, it focused on how he met and eventually hooked up with the local rich girl.  Maybe PT picked up that valuable skill set even if it was in a country store where he learned it!

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