General Stores are Good for Your Health

(Illustration by Jessie McLaughlin)

The Canadian Alliance for Social Connection and Health has announced a study to identify potential guidelines for social connection. 

They’re trying to convince Canadians that paying attention to your social health is just as important as paying attention to how many veggies you put on your plate. 

With the renaissance of the rural general store, it is now easier than ever to meet your needs to stay healthy, both physically and socially.

General stores have always been about much more than just getting your dry goods or a new corset. 

As Mike Parker, author of A Little of Everything, puts it, “it was a place to meet and greet, gossip, solve world problems and tell tales, tall and true.”

Riverbank General Store and Cafe in Mill Village is leaning into that old way of doing things and expanding the community’s understanding of what their store can provide.

The store has been open over a decade and is operated by the Queens Association for Supported Living, a non-profit organisation whose website shares their mission of being “dedicated to providing choices and opportunities to persons with diverse abilities.” 

During the week you’ll find program participants at the store learning work skills on the job.

Tanya Wolstenholme, store manager, says Wednesday is a pretty active day at the store. 

Employees Alex and Melissa are usually both serving hot drinks and baked goods at the Coffee Social, a free weekly event that brings community members together in the beautiful seating area overlooking the river.

On other days you might stop by the store to hear music, pick up a carton of milk or grab a pizza to-go. 

Riverbank General Store has realised their presence is an important community service that can provide social connection, employment opportunities, and a chance to sit and enjoy the view.


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