Chapman’s Store

Chapman’s Store Chapman’s Store Chapman’s StoreThis Sandy Bottom store was in operation from 1929 until 1972 when Sam Chapman passed away.  Initially the store was a general store as were many of the others, however in 1946 John Bradshaw went into partnership with Sam and they added a line of equipment used by oystermen and watermen that included the sale of boat motors, oyster tongs, southwestern (a hat with a large brim on the back to keep the rain out and normally of a yellow color), boots and other nautical equipment.  This turned out to be very successful in addition to the general store and hardware venue.  People from Hobson, Crittenden, and Eclipse frequented the store as well as local Sandy Bottom customers.

Gibson Chapman, Sam’s son, as a young boy remembered having to haul 300 pound blocks of ice that were delivered to the front door and he would drag them to the back of the store, cut them into 3 pieces and drop them down into a cooler built into the floor.  Then as ordered they would chip the ice into any block size that a person needed for their refrigeration.  His dad gave him specific directions on how to chip this ice so as not to waste any.  Gibson used ice tongs to move the ice and to lift it out of the cooler when needed.  Gibson said that his primary responsibility on Friday and Saturday, other than sweeping, was to get ready for those nights when they stayed open until midnight.  He would put sugar in small bags and stock the shelves.  Lots of bootleggers would come in and buy their supplies and most people knew when you picked up a hundred pounds of mash, sugar and yeast that it was most likely for a liquor still.  Not sure if any boot leg whiskey was in the store but Gibson said “he was sure the high school boys knew where it was”.

Although most merchants used the same kind of credit/ticket stowage that many of the others stores had (could be folded down and locked up) Sam Chapman used a paper bag as his adding machine.  As each item was purchased, the price was written on a paper bag and at the end of the sale it was totaled,  shown to the buyer and some items were placed in that bag.  It was either paid for or put on credit, the latter being the most common especially for the farmers who might be carried for a year until they sold their crops.  After closing the general store Gib Chapman, Sam’s grandson, moved in and started a boat sales/repair business, Nansemond Marine, which is still in operation today.

Written by Drexel Bradshaw.