Keays' Store


Keays’ Store in Priest Pond[i]:

            Keays’ General Store was built across from the East Baltic Road and was originally owned and operated by D.F. Keays; he opened in the early 1900s.  It was later operated by his daughter and her husband, D.A. MacEachern.  Bernard and Loma MacPhee later owned and operated the store until purchased by Pius MacPhee.  The store was finally sold to Sam and Dorothy Jennings.  Under the Jennings’ ownership the original store burnt in the 1980s.  Although little information was recorded, many local people remember its history. 

            Keays’ store sold groceries, small hardware items and much more; anything they didn’t normally stock, it could be ordered.  They operated a peddler system, where an employee would travel to local homes selling household items; they did this until the 1950s.  It was a moderate sized store with a counter on both sides as you walked in, shelves around the surrounding walls and bulk bags in the corners; a bartering system was also used.  Many customers would trade produce for other needed items; because of this blueberries would pack the store shelves.  Strawberries were a scarce product and would not often be traded, people would keep what they found for themselves.

            One resident recalls a time at the store when a bucket of molasses overflowed.  To clean it up they would spread bran over top of it mix it up and shovel the muck into a bucket to take home for horse feed; this way there was not waste.  Another local remembers the evenings at the store how there would be a lot of talk and, “an awful lot of lies,” as he described it.  The men use to sit in the back portion of the store, it would be packed, to sit around and talk about the events that went on in the community and elsewhere. 

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