M. CROW & COMPANY GENERAL STORE SINCE 1907
In its 103 years of continuous family ownership and operation, the store has been managed by three different generations. Michael Crow, along with brothers Charles E. and Simon P., purchased the property at a Sheriff's sale on the courthouse steps in Enterprise in December of 1906. The business was formerly known as Lostine Mercantile Co. The Crow brothers began business operations in March 1907 after negotiating with the former owners for fixtures and other business equipment. During the early years of the store's operation, a fourth brother Samuel Martin Crow, and a brother-in-law Stewart Hambleton, were also active partners in M. Crow & Company.
The original building that still houses the business was first built in Colonial Revival style as a school, Lostine Academy. It was moved to this site around 1900. The attached false front section was added later, as were the side warehouse and the back grain storage warehouses. A covered scale house with aJones of Binghamton scale was also added in the store's early days. An oil-fired hot water boiler was acquired from the old town of Maxville, where it had been installed and used by the Bowman Hicks Lumber operation. It supplied the store with heat for many, many years.
Currently Doug Crow and wife Melanie are managing the store, with their son Andrew assisting with upkeep and other projects. Sister Janice and her husband Keith Bird provide relief help after a 13-year commitment of running the family business. Prior to Janice and Keith, Doug's other sister Claudia and her husband Wayne Moore put in 16 years overseeing the business. Parents L. Warner and Ethel T. Crow ran the operation for 33 years, and instilled in all of us a real love and dedication for keeping the store going. We have an early picture of the store that also shows our great grandfather William Humprey Crow lending a helping hand in the store. Doug has had help from granddaughter, Kiah Grace Carlson, as she is five years old and enjoys bagging on occasion, so with those factors considered, we have had six generations of family contributing to the store’s success!
The store has always been a true General Store, with a tremendous offering of goods. “Everything from soup to nuts” is a popular expression that helps to describe all of the offerings available. During a recent interview, it was noted by the reporter, that in a matter of 20 minutes he had watched different transactions that included paint, fresh bananas, mule shoes, fountain pop, shoe laces, flour, milk & bread, gloves, electrical & plumbing items all go across the counter to different customers! And that doesn't begin to even tell what is here.
The highlights of our store are many, with old display cases, ornate scales, and lots of mint merchandise from bygone eras all on display. The old wooden floors and even the unique and pleasant aroma of M. Crow's all help to bring back memories of days past. Collectors of antiques will love looking at the hundreds of items on display, and some are still in use.Putnam Dye tin merchandisers, J.& P. Coats oak thread spool dispenser, The Boye Needle Co. mechanical needle and bobbin dispenser, Mansfield's Automatic Gum coin-operated dispenser, an array of Coca-Cola memorabilia featuring a factory produced wooden framed "Hospitality" lady and several other Coca-Cola marketing posters and tin signs adorn the wall above today’s modern Coke fountain pop station. All of these bear the message “Stop by for a refreshing pause."
Other unique items from the early days of merchandizing include a beautifulKeen Kutter glass and oak display case along with at least six other cases like it including one that is a full 10 feet long with over 45 small slide-out drawers. There are also three old safes; two of them from the Norris Safe Company in Portland, Oregon, while the very unusual "Cannon-ball" safe was built in New York City by the Manganese Steel Safe Co. and weighs in at more than one ton! Many old advertising posters and point-of-sale boards are on display throughout the store. An amazing assortment of nine yard-long calendars featuring beautiful and very elegantly dressed ladies from the late teens to 1930s adorns one of the high walls of the store. Two antique coffee mills that were once part of the daily trade activity are on display and they look to be in near perfect condition.
ONGOING VARIETY, CONVENIENCE, AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
While the store has had a glorious past and has an incredible old-time feel, it still has a purpose of serving the community with a great selection of groceries, pop, beer, wine, snacks, candy, gum, milk, bread, pasta, sugar, flour, spices, diary, ice cream, frozen food, pizza, canned goods, etc.... If it is hardware, screws, nails or fasteners that you are after or repairs to an electric or plumbing problem you will be overwhelmed by the outstanding stock of merchandise on the shelves to solve your issue. Were you heading out for a picnic and forgot the hot dogs? No problem. Maybe you left your fishing tackle box behind or the kids baseball bat, or horseshoes for throwing (or reshoeing that old reliable pony)? We've got you covered! Oh, tarps you say for really covering up something? You guessed it: we stock those, too. While we may not always have every single item you need on hand, we are happy to order in what you need. Meanwhile, we are the only store in the valley that can offer one-stop shopping for practically anything and everything you use everyday.