This is not so much a favorite thing as it is a favorite place. One that holds a treasure trove of favorite things, as all good General Stores do. I know this means you can’t run out and check out one of my favorite shops for yourself unless you come visit. And nope, they don’t sell online (but they do Ship Anywhere).

That’s one of the things I love about Symon’s General Store in Petoskey, just across the bay. The old-fashioned, the throw-back to another era—the old coke machine, the tin ceiling, the candy in jars—combined with the most current, hot, you-want-it-badly treats. Here on the corner of Howard and Lake is a fromagier, God bless it, to mollify the spoiled eater in me who got to grab hers from Cowgirl Creamery any day of the week at the Ferry Market, for a time. There are spices galore, olives, good coffee, oils and vinegars, croissants too, warm from the oven with cheese and ham peeking out from the ends. Not to mention the kind of salesperson who is absent any concern I’m out concept-stealing and says, sure, feel free to take pictures. Enjoy it.

As much as I can be a Miracle Mile devotee (at least the way that shopping lane once was, before the ho-hum chains took over), and I love a great handbag as much as the next girl, I’ve also got plenty of The Waltons in me. Mary Ellen, Erin, Elizabeth, I loved them all, with their cotton dresses and their trips to the General Store to pick up a licorice whip or a pencil. That would have been John Boy, going for the pencil. John Boy is my General Store hero, and I think of him with some frequency. He wrote about the everyday of his family and his life on Walton’s Mountain and knew that was art, and he tells me it’s just fine if I do the same.

Now, I may have paid more than I will admit for a little foil pocket of za’atar at Symon’s (the back of the pouch reads: adds a cosmopolitan touch to any dish), but the main thing is that they were the only shop that had za’atar when I had none in my pantry and needed it, pronto.

I hope you have a favorite General Store, or something akin, where you live. One that isn’t a Las Vegas rendition of a General Store, with hollow marble pillars and hollow…everything. Even if it’s in a strip mall, no matter. This isn’t me pontificating about shopping local. It’s just that after a season of shopping online (not strictly, but certainly some) to send with a clickity click click, I’m a little internet-weary.

This is about enjoying something authentic, something favorite, something you can get only if you go there.

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