Bristow's Store, located on the corner of Cross and Virginia streetsin downtown Urbanna, is one of the oldest operating stores in Middlesex County. Once the largest retail store in the county, Bristow's has been the cornerstone of commercial activity in Urbanna since R.S. bristow, Sr. opened for business in 1876.
The present store was built in 1898 and in those days, most of the goods came from Baltimore via steamboats, which docked at Burton's Wharf, located 500 yards down at the foot of Whatling Street.
During the early years, cord wood, coal, coal oil and railroad ties were bought and sold here at Bristow's along with a full line of groceries and meats. In the grocery section of the store, live chickens could be bought in coops, salted meats such as the Southern delicacy, fat back, as well as fish were available. Black strap molasses, flour and sugar came in barrels and were sold in brown paper bags.
Coffee and pepper were bought in the form of beans and then ground by a hand mill, which can still be seen in the store. Other items offered at Bristow's from those days were harnesses, horseshoes (not for playing the game) horseshoe nails, plows and patent medicine.
In 1911, a gasoline tank was installed and gas was brought in from Baltimore in barrels via sailing vessels; making Bristow's one of the first gas stations in the entire county.
Mr. Bristow was also postmaster of Urbanna and the Post Office was operated in what is now the shoe section of the store. When R.S. Bristow, Sr. passed away in 1926, his son, R.S. Bristow, Jr. returned home to help run the daily operations of the store. From then until 1988, the Bristows owned and operated the establishment which has been a County landmark for generations
Bristow's was purchased by Richard Marshall of Urbanna and as owners is operating with the same gentle respect for its customers
as was customary over 134 years ago. The original name of the store, R.S. Bristow and Son, Inc. has been changed to R.S. Bristow Store and is still the "Home of Good Goods".
We welcome you to Urbanna. We are proud of our Village by the River and hope you enjoy your stay.
The corner of Cross and Virginia Streets in Downtown Urbanna