Since 1886 F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store Has Loved the Holiday RushDec 04, 2017 08:49PM ● By Linda Ditch
Owner Jireh Billings says, “December is by far our busiest month of the year, and it all starts with Thanksgiving.” When asked if business gets more hectic as the month goes along, he laughs and adds, “We have a different way of looking at it. It gets better. Busy is better.”
Do his employees feel the same way? He laughs again and says, “I’ve got employees who have been with us 37 years, so they know what to expect.”
Jireh is the great-grandson of the store’s founder, Frank Henry Gillingham. Located in the original building at 16 Elm Street, a visit to the store is a step back in time. You will find both traditional and modern items all in one place. The information available in the archives of the building describes its history, including original nail bins, new designer shelves, and its first refrigeration system.
The store began by selling hardware but evolved through the years to survive. Today, they also sell clothing from Carhartt and Darn Tough, plus Woodstock- and Gillingham-inspired T-shirts and sweatshirts. And they offer gift-oriented foods, housewares, books, and toys.
“We are the prototype of the original general store, which was the forerunner of the department store,” says Jireh.
Gillingham can ship your gifts to faraway family and friends. Jireh notes that it’s best to send those gifts at least 10 days before Christmas unless you want to pay extra for overnight shipping.
Recently, Jireh enjoyed one of his favorite traditions—decorating the front of the store for the holidays on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. His three sons pitch in to help. He says, “I love when the store gets decorated. It’s tradition that I hang the garland on the front of the store. However, I can’t climb the ladder anymore. My wife is adamant about that! So I have my three sons climb the ladder for me.”
Visit FH Gillingham & Sons General Store at 16 Elm St, Woodstock, VT or head to their website to learn more.