Brewster General Store outside view
Authors: Marco & Angelo

Authors: Marco & Angelo

We own the Candleberry Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast in central Cape Cod. We're glad to share our recommendations on all the great things to explore throughout Cape Cod.

Step Back in Time at The Brewster General Store: A Must-Visit Destination on Cape Cod

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    Brewster Massachusetts is home to many historic and interesting sites, and The Brewster General Store is at the top of that list. Featuring a wide variety of products — from staples to souvenirs — the shop is a gathering place for the community.

    Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about The Brewster Store. If you’re looking for more historic sites and activities on Cape Cod, download our free Vacation Guide.

    Brewster General Store outside view
    Brewster General Store | photo courtesy of weneedavacation

    All About The Brewster Store

    Located on scenic Route 6A at the intersection of Route 124 and across the street from the Candleberry Inn, The Brewster Store has been serving the community since 1866. This “Heart of Brewster” is open every day all year, providing visitors an authentic New England shopping experience full of nostalgia.

    Locals like to meet at the store benches in the morning for fresh coffee, doughnuts, and other pastries. They also gather next door at The Brewster Scoop for ice cream in the summer. And, you are more than welcome to join them.

    Inside, you can peruse two floors of unique merchandise — apparel, penny candy, unique gifts, and more. While shopping, you’ll hear the Nickelodeon player-piano filling the air with music.

    The Brewster General Store’s History

    The Brewster Store wasn’t always a general store. The building was constructed in 1852 by the Universalist Society as a two-story church. During the 1860s — which included the Civil War — congregation attendance steadily declined.

    Knowles Family Ownership

    With dwindling attendance, the society sold the church to William W. Knowles for just $1 in 1866. He removed the steeple, added wide store windows in the front, extended the porch, and raised the first-floor ceiling. That’s when the building became one of just six general stores in Brewster.

    However, the general store was more than just a shop. “THE HALL” on the second floor was reserved for dances, plays, and other social events.

    From 1883, Knowles was the on-and-off town postmaster too, and the post office was an integral part of the business and ensured that there was a steady flow of patrons.

    Knowles passed away in 1902, but his son Willy continued running the shop. Between 1910 and 1920, the rounded windows on the second and third floors were replaced with rectangular windows, which you still see now.

    Crocker Family Ownership

    In 1926, the Knowles family sold the general store to Henry Crocker — the grocery manager. He became the postmaster, and along with the offered provisions and services, he included daily deliveries for everything.

    During his ownership, Crocker sold and installed linoleum. He also sold insurance, and that part of his business became so successful that he sold the store to Donald Doane — a longtime employee — in 1946.

    Doane Family Ownership

    It’s believed that Doane was more interested in documenting and collecting antiques than running the general store. He even closed the shop briefly in 1962 and reopened it as a museum.

    When the museum failed, he reopened the building as the general store and occasionally gave guided tours of his upstairs museum.

    Dibble Family Ownership

    After Doane suddenly died in 1970 without a will, the store contents were sold at auction. His mother sold the property itself to Faith and Bob Dibble — a couple of summer residents who already owned a general store in Pennsylvania. The couple changed the shop’s name to The Brewster Store.

    For eight years, Tim Dibble — the couple’s son — managed the store until the couple permanently moved to Brewster. The Dibbles gathered an excellent collection of antique containers, display pieces, and tools that gave the shop new life.

    The couple was dedicated to discovering and selling items that modern retailers no longer sold — cast-iron cookware, old kitchen gadgets, enamelware, and lamp parts. They added an old coal stove, a peanut roaster and warmer, and a 1920 Nickelodeon player-piano.

    Boyd Family Ownership

    In 1986, the Dibbles retired and sold The Brewster Store to George and Missy Boyd, who also own The Strawberry Patch Gift Shop that opened in 1971. They carry on the general store’s traditions and continue to preserve the historic building.

    The Boyds added the benches that you see in front of the shop. They obtained the benches from a Chatham church and placed them in a way that provides a protected area for locals and visitors to gather and enjoy each other’s company when the weather is warm.

    The couple emptied the store and reinforced its structure from the basement to the second floor in March 1989 — the first major renovation since the general store opened. The six remaining church windows on the second floor were also restored by a local craftsman.

    In June 1989, THE HALL was reopened, and now it’s home to The Strawberry Patch, the old Brewster Post Office, World War II posters, advertising antiques, and more eclectic and interesting items.

    old fashioned candy jars in the Brewster General Store
    Brewster General Store | photo courtesy of mariefromage

    Shopping at The Brewster Store

    It’s easy to spend quite a bit of time looking through all of the products that The Brewster Store has for purchase. Here’s a quick look at the categories of products that you’ll find.

    Food & Candy

    Aside from personal gardens and farms, general stores used to be the primary source of food. The Brewster Store continues to offer a range of local foods and distinct items from afar. You can find store coffee, cranberry bog frogs, fudge, jellies and jams, penny candy, saltwater taffy, and more on the store shelves.

    Clothing & Accessories

    You can find an array of hats, T-shirts, and sweaters with The Brewster Store and Cape Cod logos on them. Most of these designs are only available at the general store. In addition, the shop carries aprons and bandanas.

    Toys & Games

    Kids and children at heart will think that The Brewster Store and The Strawberry Patch upstairs are a paradise. Each has a veritable selection of nostalgic board games, dolls and doll clothes, and toys. You can also find diecast military models, military model-plastic kits, and marbles, as well as an outdoor Garden Railway, a Children’s Maze, and a mini carousel.

    Books of All Kinds

    Readers, coloring addicts, and history lovers will enjoy the book section at The Brewster Store. There are children’s books, activity and coloring books, and books about the town and Cape Cod.

    To learn more about the store and Brewster, consider picking up “A History of The Brewster Store; The Heart of Brewster” by George H. Boyd III and Matt Dibble or “Brewster: The Way We Were” by George H. Boyd III.

    Oil Lamps & Parts

    If you need oil lamp parts, you’ll find them among a large assortment at The Brewster Store. There are glass shades, hurricanes, chimneys, and wicks. You can purchase new oil lamps as well.

    Brewster Store Merchandise

    In addition to apparel and accessories, you can find an assortment of other products that feature The Brewster Store logo. Check out the glasses, mugs, ornaments, prints, and notecards. You can even get a mini model or snowglobe of the store and lavender or lemon verbena soap.

    fall decorations outside the Brewster General Store
    Brewster General Store | photo courtesy of weneedavacation

    The Brewster Scoop

    Although it’s located outside of The Brewster Store, The Brewster Scoop is located on the same property right next door. This ice cream parlor is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, serving more than 30 flavors alongside four sugar-free flavors, four frozen yogurt flavors, and six sherbets and sorbets.

    You can choose from nearly a dozen toppings to customize your frozen treat. Also on the menu are frappes, sundaes, and three float flavors. The ice cream is available in bulk too.

    History of The Brewster Scoop

    In the 1920s and early 1930s, a small building on the east side of the store was an ice cream parlor, but it closed during the Great Depression. The Brewster Store owners renovated the shed at the back of the property and reopened the ice cream parlor in June 1993.

    However, The Brewster Scoop needed more space to accommodate the growing crowds. So in 2009, it was moved to its current location — the old post office on the west side of the store.

    Christmas Caroling at The Brewster Store

    If you’re visiting Brewster and Cape Cod during the holiday season, you don’t want to miss the annual Christmas caroling at The Brewster Store. It’s generally held a few days before Christmas, attracting a few hundred people.

    This tradition started in 1970 at the Old Town Hall when the selectmen asked Gordon Brooks — a Brewster artist — to play the cornet. Later, The Brewster Store owners asked Brooks to play at their shop, and music and caroling has been held here ever since.

    After braving the cold and singing Christmas carols, attendees are served holiday refreshments, including mulled cider. Santa may even arrive to hand out candy canes.

    Exterior of Candleberry at Twilight

    A Luxury Bed and Breakfast Near The Brewster Store

    No matter when you plan a Cape Cod getaway, Candleberry Inn is the No. 1 bed and breakfast in the region — and even the United States. Best of all, The Brewster Store is just a short walk (just two minutes!) from our inn, which is also full of its own history.

    Featuring luxurious accommodations and a variety of amenities, you’ll always be comfortable at Candleberry Inn. We can even help you plan your Cape Cod adventures. Reserve a room or suite for your travel dates now!

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