Five Families

Built in 1883, the Hainesville General Store was owned and operated by Mr. James M. Stoll. Specializing in dry goods, farming equipment, fertilizer, and dairyman supplies, HGS provided for the needs of farms that sustained a newly settled community. The store remained in the Stoll family for many years before being sold to Bruno and Mary Benna in 1945.

Originally located on what is now Layton-Hainesville Road, the store was erected directly 300 feet behind its current location. On June 7, 1951 the entire building was moved on giant timber skids that were greased with “25 cakes of white soap”. Without shifting a can, bottle, or box from its shelves, the store was slowly inched onto its new foundation. Rumor has it that Mr. Benna remained open for business and patrons would climb into the front door as the shop was enroute. Portions of these skids remain in the store’s basement to this day.

Once the Bennas retired, HGS was sold to Jim DeGennaro who, like the Stolls and Bennas before him, resided on the second floor of the store with his family. In addition to continuing small town general store traditions, the DeGennaros operated a local weather station on site. It was here that the coldest temperatures on record for the region were recorded at -32 degrees giving the area the nickname the “icebox of Sussex County”.

In 1996, Bob and Megan Horst purchased the store with dreams of restoring the building to its original state, right down to the oak floors and walls, exposing the post and beam construction. Through their hard work and dedication, their dreams were realized and HGS once again stands as it did nearly 140 years ago. This local treasure has seen generation upon generation pass through its doors.

As Bob and Megan are now ready to enjoy a well-deserved retirement, we are honored and excited to become the fifth family to own this historic landmark. We are committed to preserving the vision of the four families who came before us and look forward to serving the community that we have called home for more than 20 years. We invite you to stop in, say hello, and see what’s new… and what is old.

Paul and Emily Csencsits