The windows were shuttered and the lock on the front door twisted closed on a 224-year old tradition in Adamsville on Sunday.
Generations of villagers frequented Gray's Store on Main Street for bread, milk and cheese before big-box grocer's like Shaw's and Stop and Shop moved in and pulled business away.
As Jonah Waite, the 21-year-old heir to the general store and its accompanying estate shuttered those windows one last time on Sunday, Gray's Store and its legacy was ready to be laid to rest.
Waite inherited the store and its accompanying house and acreage when his father, Grayton, passed away from esophageal cancer last month.
"This has been a crash course in life with dealing with what happens and having all of this property," said Waite, who is entering his senior year at the University of Hartford. He is studying journalism.
Sunday would have been Grayton's 59th birthday.
"It's kind of ironic that we're closing Sunday and the license is not being renewed to sell goods," said Waite. "We have been planning this last weekend and to have Sunday be the last day of operation because it is my father's birthday. Sunday seens like an appropriate time to let the place go to rest. It's the end of an era."
A business that once served as the community's source for groceries, mail - it was Rhode Island's first post office - and a place to gather has slowly lost its "luster," explained Waite. While there is a certain novelty that patrons find in its historical merit, Waite said it has transformed over the centuries from a vibrant general store into a dusty novelty shop - filled with history and treasures to delight passers by.
"Now it is [stocked with] items more along the lines of nonperishables - plates, linens, knicknacks and collectibles," said Waite. "It's definitely seen its different times of what it has held."
Despite the dip in business, the decision to close the store was not easy one for Waite, who began frequenting the store's cluttered aisles as a baby under his father's arm.
"There is a lot of value to this place and for me it is completely priceless," said Waite. "Besides the historical aspect, I have this inner conflict whether or not to sell."
That decision is a long way off, however. Whether Waite will decide to keep the property, rent it or sell it isn't something he needs to decide overnight and he said he probably wouldn't begin to decide until after he turns his tassles at his graduation ceremony next May.
Grayton, his son explained, took over the store in the 1980s after his own father died - and he took his role seriously. He was punctual, he maintained a neat shop and he instilled these values into his only son, Jonah.
Still, despite his father's work ethic, Waite said he finds comfort in knowing that his father intended to sell before he passed away. Waite - with his own ambitions, knew he had his father's support.
"I know that he is looking down and knowing that I will to the right thing and the best thing for me," said Waite.
Although Waite said offers were trickling in, he doubted the general store, which was officially declared by Sen. Jack Reed to be the longest continously operated one in the U.S., would ever be reopened.
"With technology and everything, with the way that it is now, it wouldn't withstand to be the same kind of store," said Waite. "In order to make money and be worthwhile there needs to be a massive overhaul to regain any sort of real attraction with it."
A lot of hype has surrounded the closure of the store that was opened in 1788, but Waite said business was always slow these last few years. Tourists would come in with their cameras and snap away, but he said the functionality of a small-town general store just couldn't compete with the convenience of the larger stores just up the street.
"This media hype will all pass and it will go back to being an old store on the road and once again no one will have any real interest," he said.
But to the Waite family, who has run the store since 1879, Gray's Store and the attached home where Jonah Waite was raised, will always hold the memories of family.