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Carol goes “Country”

by Rod Lee

As if one of New England’s most adored and picturesque town commons is not reason enough to love Grafton, there are the commercial ventures sprinkled like “Jimmies” on an ice-cream cone around its outer rim.

None has a more sterling reputation than the Grafton Country Store, at 2 Central Square.

Built in 1806 by Jonathan Wheeler Jr. and originally known as “the Green House,” the wood-frame structure has always been a store; but with a progression of different owners.

Enter Carol Dauphinais, who assumed the mantle of proprietorship only a few months ago. So recently that when we visited, daughter Jordan replied, upon being asked for a business card, “we don’t have them yet!”

Though new at the helm, Carol Dauphinais is not unfamiliar with the store. “I grew up four houses down and now I live ten houses up!” she said. “My (four) daughters have all worked here.”

The family has been active in Grafton town life for years. Carol’s husband Craig is a Grafton selectman.

That Carol Dauphinais has an appreciation for the history of the Grafton Country Store means that it will remain in good hands. She has no plans to remove the old safe in the back, or the huge ice chest in which meats were once stored. Nor is it likely she will alter its old general-store feel, a definite drawing card even for the handful of kids who were on the premises on a morning in mid-July—buying candy.

About the only radical change she has made so far is the installation of a new wrap-around sales counter in the middle of the store. “I wanted to be able to greet customers as they come in,” Ms. Dauphinais said. Don Chouinard, a neighbor of the Dauphinais family, “built the whole thing.” As a crowning touch, the front of the counter has been embellished with handsome wainscoted panels. “They’re from the Wayside Inn in Sudbury,” she said.

The Grafton Country Store brims with interesting merchandise but there is no sense of clutter. While engraved cutting boards to the left as you enter (“100% premium hard maple wood or American oak”) are an attention getter, there are plenty of other eye-catching items: jewelry, candles, knick knacks, bags and satchels, greeting cards, silverware, scarves, lamps, “sentiments,” paintings, scents and lotions, expressions/signs, Willow Tree angels, jams and jellies, napkins, Mary Dennis postcards and mat-board pictures. There is even a Kids Nook.

To the right side of the store is “Latte a’More,” a small café with tables where patrons can enjoy coffee, pastries and scones. Nothing, seemingly, has been overlooked, in making an hour or so spent in the Grafton Country Store a pleasant shopping experience.

For Carol Dauphinais, a pert, bubbly woman, every dawn as owner brings a rush of excitement. She owes her husband for pushing her to give it a whirl.

“He said to me, 'you need a job.' Why don’t you go run the country store?’ It’s great. I put on the music. It’s like being at a party all day long. It’s just fun.”