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Alley’s General Store, Martha’s Vineyard
One of 25 historic properties owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, Alley’s General Store shows just how exuberantly general a general store can be. Thanks to the vision of the Trust and the multi-tasking talents of manager/buyer Rhonda Backus, this up-island outpost is a marvel of ingenuity, creativity, and utility. The store lives up to its motto, “Dealers in Almost Everything,” with a floor-to-ceiling mash-up of food, gifts, and tools.
Anyone willing to mine the mounds of merchandise will discover among the hardware and groceries gems such as a stapler in the shape of a hot dog, an adult-size Big Foot costume, a cellphone protective cover that looks like a cracked screen, and a talking pen featuring Star Trek’s George Takei repeating, “Oh myyy.” A crafts section boasts rock collection starters and a paper lantern animal-making kit. Wasabi candy, gravy candy, bacon mints, and popcorn jellybeans blast the boundaries of the average penny candy collection.
The historical heart of the store is the 100-box post office still in use. Grooves in the floorboards show where postmasters paced during the last century, says Chris Scott, the Trust president, whose mother once rented a box here. As he contemplates his upcoming retirement after 25 years on the job, Scott is grateful that island landmarks like Alley’s have been preserved not as museums but as living entities. “I’m happiest that it’s open and doing what it’s supposed to be doing . . . that in the off-season dusk, I drive up and I see the lights on at Alley’s.”
Sara’s favorite purchase: a unicorn squirrel feeder (a dangling unicorn head filled with nuts that provides YouTube-worthy video opportunities).
1045 State Road, West Tisbury • mvpreservation.org
(click on “About,” “Historic Properties,” & “Alley’s General Store”) • 508-693-0088
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