As our home in The Shoals area continues to grow and expand, so does our list of things to do and see. Downtown Florence has been flourishing in the past few years, and new shops are popping up alongside tried-and-true mainstays. Ye Ole General Store, one of those longtime favorite spots, sits at the corner of Tombigbee and Seminary Streets, between a cycling shop and business offices.
The shop, which opened in 1947, has known two other names: Darby’s and Killen’s. When current owner Gordon Glasscock’s grandfather bought the business in 1973, it was rechristened Ye Ole General Store. Originally Glasscock never intended to take over the family’s business. But in 2006, after years of working as a chef, he was given the opportunity to take over the store; the idea of changing pace and working in a store of his own design was too tempting to pass up. Ten years in and Glasscock continues to curate a unique shopping experience for his guests.
Outside, a mannequin that Glasscock calls Rosie, welcomes you to the store. Over the years, her wardrobe has varied (though she almost always models one of the store’s many available hats), but these days she sports a t-shirt boasting Muscle Shoals’ music history. Once you take a step inside we recommend allowing at least an hour—if not more—to browse with intention.
The Civil War-era hats and modern-day Auburn University beanies highlight the juxtaposition of old and new seen throughout the store. If you’re looking for overalls, Glasscock will gladly find your perfect size, as he has done for generations of loyal customers. And while the store stocks a variety of hats and American-made work wear, it is an actual “general store”, selling cast iron skillets, albums from local musicians, old-fashioned men’s shaving tools, and an array of varied, useful items.
One of Glasscock’s favorite things about the store is that it allows him to meet interesting people from all walks of life—so take time to strike up a conversation with him. He’ll tell you about how he came to possess some of the biggest Levi’s jeans ever made (they measure 76 x 45) and about his most prized item in the store—an original print by Tommy Wright of Linda Ronstadt singing. That image is one of many Glasscock has collected over the years to create a visual tour of the area’s music history. Framed images of Donnie Fritts, David Hood, Donna Jean Godchaux-McKay, and other musicians tied to the Shoals are hung throughout the store.
Ye Ole General Store allows Glasscock a platform to show off what this community means to him. When you eventually find your way back to the front of the store don’t forget to say farewell to Rosie as you leave.
Regular store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (though they keep seasonal hours, during certain times of the year).
Ye Ole General Store
219 North Seminary Street