history of the halcyon general store

Welcome to the Halcyon General Store, a vital center of the Halcyon National Historic District!

Throughout its history, this unique community general store has offered a variety of items, from locally grown fresh produce, to gifts, books, clothing, artwork by local artists, and other necessities for everyday living. For many of its years, its mission unified three distinct elements, a store, post office, and library into one space, all realized within a picturesque shiplap wood frame building. The vision for the new Halcyon General Store is being realized within the immediate context of the 130-acre historic district’s rich soil and farming traditions, now completely organic. Ron Carlock’s retail experience and his crew’s legendary attentiveness will now provide a renewed mission for the Halcyon General Store, as an eclectic and charming community gathering spot, garden shop, and nursery for the entire Five Cities region and beyond.

The idea for a general store in Halcyon was discussed immediately upon the arrival of new settlers to the community in 1904. There was clearly a need to support it through a centralized public space where vegetables, fruit, honey, chickens and eggs, souvenirs of the area, and later even gasoline and oil could be purchased. The Halcyon General Store has served as an important center for community activities for nearly 115 years. An official United States post office opened for business in August 1908, and with a small stock of grocery supplies the store began to fill its emerging purpose. Various members of the Temple of the People ran the store, and by the 1930s a small county branch library was also created. By this point, as one clerk reminisced, the community operated “a combination of store, post office and library—a unique establishment where one could purchase a money order, check out a library book, have a slice of cheese cut from the round brick, and even fill up with gas from the pump out in front – all services rendered by the same obliging, if somewhat breathless clerk.”

By 1947, the rambling, vine-covered wooden and metal building that housed the store had become quite decrepit. Rather than undertaking a complete remodel, a salvageable part of the original building was moved a half a block to the corner of South Halcyon Road and LaDue Street and erected with other lumber salvaged from the community’s Halcyon Pottery Works. By the late 1950s the erstwhile grocery store became the refurbished “Halcyon Health Food Store.” A new clerk expressed her desire for the store to perform a real service to the community, and applauded representatives that lended their expertise to its three lines of service: the county librarian, the Arroyo Grande assistant postmaster, and the owner of Ray’s Health Food Store in Santa Maria. This collaboration led later clerks in the 1970s to dub it “the small mall.” The community aspect continued to be maintained with a stress on humanity’s “daily bread.” With its other services it was in many ways the heart and soul of the Temple group as it interfaced with the larger community. A true collaboration was realized, much like we imagine today.

The Halcyon General Store, with Ron Carlock as the new proprietor, will inspire with a renewed vision of serving the community. You’ll find a wide variety and diversity of wonderful plants and succulents for home and garden, beautiful gifts and home décor, other art handcrafted by local artists, and items one might find in an old-time general store. The Halcyon General Store is committed to connecting the community with the rich bounty and beauty of the natural environment, where nature has provided abundant soil that achieves its very best.

For more information about the Halcyon community and the Temple of the People, visit the Temple website