|Thompson’s General Store, Camargo, Illinois.|
A few weeks ago I drove through Camargo Illinois and noted that it had a General Store. I heard quite a few comments about Thompson’s General Store. One person had joyful childhood memories of getting home-made ice cream. Another had a memory of picking up a chicken, fresh from a local farm. An electrician I know was recently working in the area. He stopped in to Thompson’s for some drink and told me how he felt [unusually] welcome. It helped his mood on a rough, hot afternoon. Finally, I talked to a person who used to live near Camargo … he told me how much he enjoyed their deli sandwiches.
All of these comments had a common theme. People have pleasant memories of Thompson’s General Store.
Fueled by the current and past memories of the store, I rode to Camargo to write this article. Upon entering the store I was greeted by the owner, Jack Thompson. I told him that, rather than write this article from the standpoint of small town business survival, I wanted to approach the article from a historic and customer perspective. He gave me a short ownership history.
The store began business in approximately 1880. His mom and dad bought it 65 years ago … that would be 1946. His dad died in 1973 and his mom ran it until she passed away last year. Now, Jack and his daughter Jamie are running the store.
I asked Jack about memories of ice cream. He related that they used to have a whole freezer with local homemade ice cream. His mom would wrap the boxed ice cream in newspaper to keep it cold and would place it in a bag.
What was it like to be a kid in Camargo? … She (Mom) used to stock toys for kids … and of course candy … kids like candy and pop. Mom would give every kid a piece of candy, even if they didn’t buy anything.
How about the needs of adults? … She made deli sandwiches. They stocked most anything which someone may need in everyday life … motor oil, furnace filters, nut and bolts and of course, groceries. The store was also amusingly termed “Town Hall”. The town’s people would discuss what’s on their mind … also Camargo residents pay their water bill there.
Now, what has changed? Luckily, not much. They still give kids a piece of candy. They still have groceries, motor oil, furnace filters, nut and bolts …
… And, if you drive past Camargo and want a deli sandwich, stop in. They still have that too.