Until recently, sitting out front of the old general store, as one sipped on colas and argued politics, was a faint memory of Paducah’s not-so-distant past. Crystal and Martin Troutt are resurrecting those memories after bringing new life to a couple of once desolate lots in the Lower Town Arts District.
The Troutts opened the Troutt Old Time General Store and Market in April. Since then the surrounding neighborhood has been abuzz with excitement about the natural products and fresh baked, homegrown goodies sold there.
"I love a good craft soda. Those in glass bottles and made with real sugar like the old days instead of the now widely used high fructose corn syrup,” says Dixie Lynn. “While traveling, I often search out these kinds of sodas that I haven't tried before and bring them home to share. I am very excited to find a great selection of both my favorite brands, as well as some new flavors to try, at Troutt General Store!"
While many of the items found in the shop aren’t surprising, this isn’t the typical general store. Yes, there are shelves of vintage-inspired bottled sodas, classic candies and sweets, and a few staple items that most households will enjoy. Yet, what sets this store apart from other shops is the other items it sells. The Troutts have a vision for their store that reaches beyond the boundaries of the building’s four walls.
They want their store to help people all over the world. From the Blessing Baskets, handcrafted in villages of Africa and sold at prosperity wages for the workers, to My Brother’s Cup coffee beans, the sales of which will provide aid to missionaries in Asia and the Middle East, each item sold in the general store has been carefully selected.
“We can’t afford to go to these places to serve the people in these communities, so this is a way we can give something back to them,” Crystal says.
Other unique offerings include a line of earth-friendly and animal-compassionate dish soaps, cleaning solutions, laundry detergent and fabric softeners. The bottles in which the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products are packaged contain at least 25% recycled materials and nothing in the product line has been tested on animals. The products are free of chemicals and made primarily from plant-derived ingredients, as well as natural, essential oils. Even a soak in legendary Madge’s Palmolive dish soap is unlikely to hold a candle to these gentle, household-cleaning products.
For those looking for unusual pantry items, Troutt carries a line of self-labeled jams and jellies, including flavors such as dandelion and quince. There is also an assortment of pickled vegetables, often difficult to find in the local groceries around the region. A quick skim of the labels will reveal that only natural ingredients are used in any of Troutt’s canned goods. That makes their customers feel even better about their purchases.
For those who prefer to do their own gardening and canning, Troutt carries a line of heirloom vegetables and flower seeds.
“Thirteen years ago when we first started selling heirloom tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market, I had to practically give them away. Today, that’s what everyone’s looking for,” says Crystal.
A long-time collector of antique fishing gear and other “man-tiques,” some of which are available for sale in the general store, Martin has also developed a hobby of refurbishing antique machinery. He loves to enchant customers with the aroma of freshly ground coffee, using a vintage, commercial-sized coffee grinder he restored.
In fact, Troutt carries whole beans from a few coffee roasters, including two local operations, Paducah Coffee Company and Righteous Roast Coffee Company. Martin’s knack for restoration and his coffee-loving customers is a match made in heaven.
In addition to great natural and local products, the shop is filled with flea market finds that will take customers down memory lane. Milk glass and antique dishes outfit the eye-catching displays Crystal has scattered throughout the market. Prices are modest and each item appears to be in near mint condition.
“A lot of what you find in the store are items that we’ve collected, ‘junkin’ and pickin’’ over the years,” Crystal says. “I love to hear the stories people tell me when they run across something that sparks a memory about their grandmother or their youth.”
In fact, most customers are reminded of a story or two from their youth.
“The store takes me back to my childhood,” says Annie Broyles, local beekeeper and Troutt customer. “From the old furniture on the porch to the creative displays in the store, it’s fun to reminisce.”
Troutt General Store and Market is located at 433 North 4th Street. The store is open Tuesday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM, and Saturdays from 8 AM to 3 PM. For more information go to trouttoldtimegeneralstoreandmarket.com.