Relive the nostalgia of childhood with a visit to Kaffie-Frederick, the old general store, in the heart of historic downtown Natchitoches, Louisiana.
From door-to-door to brick and mortar store
The business was founded in 1863 when immigrant brothers, Adolph and Harris Kaffie, decided to expand their successful peddling business into a storefront selling general merchandise for farm and home. The mercantile survived both World Wars and the Great Depression and continues to be a thriving community landmark today.
Currently being run by 4th generation brothers, Sydney and Luke Frederick (along with Luke’s wife Lori), this Natchitoches general store is a favorite of locals and travelers alike.
Some things never change at Kaffie-Frederick
Though plenty has changed over the years—there used to be a wall between the men’s hardware and the women’s housewares sections—much has not.
When Sydney Frederick was asked if things get rearranged much, he answered without a moment’s hesitation. “Items are staying where they are. They’re not moving, they’re not moving.”
In fact, the nail bins are in the exact same spot they’ve always been and from the sounds of it, they’ll rest there forevermore.
Many of the store’s most popular items are in the hardware section—keys, nails, shovels, plumbing supplies, broomsticks and replacement handles. Even Lowe’s can’t compete with this beloved institution; they opened a store in town but ended up closing it.
Outside of hardware the biggest sellers are cast iron skillets, Dutch ovens and marbles. Sydney said, “We sell a ton of marbles. People play marbles and they also display them.”
I couldn’t resist checking out the marbles myself to see what the big deal was and I have to say, the appeal is timeless. The nostalgia of the game and the beautiful designs… yep, I get it.
Guess who went home with some marbles?
Treasures too good to miss
Louisiana’s oldest general store is as much a museum as it is a general mercantile. The store displays vintage goods, toys and photos from yesteryear above the bins and shelves full of hardware, kitchen supplies, classic toys and gifts currently for sale.
Look up! The skylights in the front and back were the only source of natural light as the store was built before electricity. The second-floor ceiling was made of glass to allow the light in.
Look for the old cotton bale scale in the rear of the store. Kaffie-Frederick was a cotton broker from the 1880’s through the mid 20th century; they purchased cotton from local farmers and sold them to cotton buyers from the textile mills.
And last but not least, be sure to buy something so you can see one of the two original hand-cranked cash registers still in use. They’re marvelous!
Vestiges of a bygone era mingle seamlessly with modern must-haves in the Kaffie-Frederick General Store and it’s definitely a must-see when visiting Natchitoches and Central Louisiana.
And if you can’t stop in just yet, they do mail order by request. You know you need some marbles…
Kaffie-Frederick Mercantile Store
758 Front Street
Natchitoches, LA 71457
Open daily Mon-Sat