R.A. Fountain, General Store, is a relic from the rural American small town past. But it’s closed during March 2021, resuming Saturday retail & snack sales on Saturdays in April, and live music once a weekend in June.
Photo by Michael Brantley
Back when we were a 7-day-a-week business, Michael Brantley profiled us in Bluegrass Unlimited ( May 2008: Buy it). At the time, he also was a freelance photographer who had his own studio in Nashville, NC, and illustrated his BU piece with his own photos, including the beautifully altered one that we’ve been using for our identity ever since.
Meanwhile, visit us on Facebook.
Watch some of our acts perform on our YouTube channels: Fountain General Store, which is where our newest videos are posted, and R.A. Fountain, a site we can no longer edit.
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When it opened in 1917, this was the second largest business building in Pitt County, boasting over 14,000 square feet of floor space, a figure that includes what became known as the Smith-Yelverton building: the two are basically twin constructions with a common (very thick) firewall between them. It was constructed with bricks made on site and included two hand-pulled elevators and ceiling-to-floor stocking ladders that ran the length of each wall. After R.A. Fountain & Sons closed in the mid-1960s, Lenwood Owens operated Owens Hardware here for many years, during most of which it was connected to Owens Grocery next door (now Hennicat Auctions) by a passageway since filled in. After the hardware business closed, Claude Nethercutt operated a toy manufacturing business that employed local artists to sculpt Disney characters that would then be used to make molds for constructing hollow plastic versions of Mickey, Donald and the crew. He dismantled the coffin room from the second floor and re-built it into what is currently the office at store’s front. After Nethercutt, Irvin Oakley ran a game room for a while and a local musician operated a practice room for his band and a recording studio on the second floor. During all this time, the R.A. Fountain building remained in the Fountain family, who offered it for sale in 2003 to its current owner, who had purchased the Smith-Yelverton building a few years prior.
RAF exterior, before the town cut down our holly trees and a hurricane took out half our storefront, and while we were still a newsstand where you could buy a daily New York Times.
R.A. Fountain, General Store & Internet Cafe, opened in November 2004, and for a couple of years, it was a daily enterprise, with Landy Spain its manager, where you could buy hanging baskets, gourmet cheeses, Cajun foods, and a daily New York Times as well as nearly a dozen local newspapers.