From a loaf of bread to live music, Pierpont General Store is the place to be
It’s an impossibly beautiful day at the intersection of Highways 163 and N in central Boone County. Scores of families and friends are relaxing the evening away as music from the bandstand fills the air. Passersby stop by the parking lot to fill up their gas tanks and neighbors run inside to get that stick of butter they were certain they had at home. This isn’t your average country store.
Pierpont General Store has served as the social hub of the village of Pierpont for decades inside a more than century-old structure. Today, the store offers the traditional basic necessities sold for years, along with updated locally sourced goods. A new bar, bistro and bandstand was added after an ownership change in 2019 and elevated the store to “the place to be” on weekend evenings.
“The building itself was moved to this current location in 1889,” says Andy Clubb, the store’s general manager. “Prior to that it was at the bottom of the hill in Rock Bridge State Park and before that it was at the top of that hill. So it’s been around for a long time. It’s been a store, distillery, blacksmith shop and private residence through the years.”
The general store has helped sustain Pierpont, a community about 5 miles south of Columbia with a population of less than 100, for the past three decades. When former owners Jed and Brandy Taylor bought the shop in 2019, they brought Andy on board to help give the location a face-lift while staying true to its rural roots.
“The gas pumps were from the 1950s and we replaced those with gas dispensers that can accept credit cards 24 hours a day. That was a popular change,” says Andy, a Boone Electric Cooperative member who’s lived in the neighborhood since 1987. “Then we revamped the inventory of what the store carries and added more products. Then we got to the big stuff.”
The big stuff included a complete renovation of a back room, the construction of a four seasons-type patio and overhaul of the outdoor space. Their work on the store started in earnest just as the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting everyday life in early 2020. A back storage room with a walk-in cooler was gutted and today is home to a small bar and cafe.
“All the tin used back here is repurposed from the roof,” Andy says. “All of the boards on the walls were from an old deck. Old ceiling rafters were repurposed as shelves. We’ve got modern new things like the beer taps. However, we tried to keep everything with a rustic feeling.”
The bar features six taps including some locally made brews. In addition to frozen pies from local favorite Shakespeare’s Pizza, the crew at Pierpont teams up with Barred Owl Butcher and Table in Columbia to take care of its modest menu. They offer a handful of specialty bratwursts and hot dogs along with housemade potato and pasta salads. “Everything is fresh and local,” Andy says. “Fiddle and Stone Bread Co. provides all of our breads and rolls and we get our produce from local farms.”
They added a deck in the back to offer open-air seating, which came in handy as outdoor dining was as popular as ever in 2020. They realized the patio wasn’t useful if the weather wasn’t cooperative, so they installed a roof made of louvers that can fully shut when needed, but also adjust to let in air and sunshine. Heaters and seasonal vinyl window coverings were added to keep the space functional in the winter.
“The outdoor transformation has been incredible,” Andy says. “The new music stage, green space, fire pit, concrete, trees and bushes have created a space where everyone feels welcome.”
That outdoor area is well used in the summer when Pierpont’s bandstand is filled with a variety of different music acts. “We do a little bit of everything music wise,” Andy says. “But generally it’s more laid-back music that people can enjoy. Like ’70s or ’80s cover bands, bluegrass or country. We try for a diverse group of bands.”
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon under the sun, a gallon of milk or you just want to get the inside scoop of what’s going on at the daily morning Pierpont Coffee Club gatherings, this unique general store is worth a visit.
“We want it to be a community gathering spot; everybody to feel welcome,” Andy says. “If it’s a nice weekend evening or afternoon, it will be full of kids out playing football or whatever. People just want to come and enjoy the rural setting.”
For more information on the Pierpont General Store call 573-442-2701 or follow them on Facebook.