Actor Steve Carrell will best be remembered as Michael Scott, the inept manager who ran a branch of the doomed Dunder Mifflin paper company in the NBC sitcom The Office. But he'll likely get far less acclaim for a smarter venture that gave new life to a historic monument in his old stomping grounds.

In 2008, Carrell bought the Massachusetts-based Marshfield Hills General Store which for more than a century and a half was a central hub in the town that bears the same name. Carrell grew up in the area—which is also where he met his wife Nancy—and he fondly recalled buying candy at the store and meeting the locals who remain friends to this day.


Unlike celebrities who hit exotic locations and head to highfalutin destinations in their private jets, The Carrells usually spend their summers in Marshfield Hills where they have a second home near the store. Fortunately, star power backing hasn't made the business an elite hangout; anyone can drop in and some might be lucky enough to catch Carrell behind the cash register.

It Wasn't Business, It Was Personal

Carrell was in the middle of shooting his final episodes of The Office when he got word from his sister-in-law Tish Vivado, who lives in Marshfield Hills, that the store was for sale and might be abandoned if nobody bought it.

Fearing that a beloved reminder of his youth might encounter the same fate as similar establishments across the country, The Carrells bought the place for roughly $500,000 and put more cash down to restore the building to its original glory.

And while leaving The Office would provide him more flex time between movie shoots to keep up with the store's progress, Carrell has repeatedly said he wouldn't be running the place. That job he gave to Vivado, who's still in charge of the operation.

Local Products And Lots Of Candy

As far as checking out the store, it's not hard to find. Marshfield Hills is about a half-hour drive southeast from Boston on Interstate 93. From there, simply look for the place at 165 Prospect Street. If you don't see Carrell on the premises, you might run into Aerosmith vocalist Steve Tyler, who lives in the area and frequents the joint.

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Even in the absence of those high-profile stars, the store's website invites patrons to expect a wide assortment of candy, arts and crafts, artisan soaps, toys, wine, and loads of preserves from apricots to strawberries. While hanging out, feel free to buy a coffee and a scone to catch a bit of that local hospitality.

Most of the inventory is courtesy of at least a dozen local vendors, although one series of gift items is more Hollywood than anything. That would be the stocked shelves of t-shirts, caps, and coffee mugs promoting Carrell's old TV show, The Office. Not surprisingly, that merch is a big seller.

Store History Includes Civil War Roots

Carel has cited sentimental and historic motives for purchasing the store. And while the former probably doesn't need any further explanation, it's the latter that highlights the importance of the store in mirroring the development of the U.S.

According to Boston-based journalist Ted Reinstein's book New England's General Stores: Exploring an American Classic, the first business in the two-story building was a retail store that shared space with the local post office back in 1853. The outbreak of the Civil War turned the upstairs part of the building into a supply depot, where uniforms for Union soldiers were sewn by hand.

Over the years, the store changed hands several times until 2008, when owner Sherry Campbell Bechtold feared the store would go under after the global financial market collapsed. She was approached by Carrell and after realizing the Hollywood star wasn't going to treat the place like a vanity plaything, she agreed to the sale.

Preserving The General Store Legacy

In an email sent to the Boston Globe, Carrell admitted that the transaction wasn't for the money, but to preserve what he calls "a piece of Americana." He also believed the store to be an ideal meeting spot for locals as part of maintaining a community spirit he said is lacking these days now that people are communicating more online than in-person.

In a lot of ways, Marshfield Hills General Store is a landmark, at least to the town's roughly 2,000 residents. To outside visitors, it's also a chance to spot a TV celebrity on his home turf, while others might view it as a day-tripping distraction from the multitude of things you can do in Boston.

Either way, thanks to the Carrells, the shop has a new lease on life.

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