If you’ve visited Sanibel Island, you’ve more than likely heard of the Bailey family or experienced their island presence unknowingly. Actually, as soon as you get on island and turn right onto Periwinkle Way you pass a street named Bailey Road on the right-hand side. As you continue to drive down Periwinkle Way, you’ll soon pass the Bailey Family Homestead – home of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Native Plant Nursery.
Continuing along Sanibel’s main drag, you’ll pass by our office with the big McCallion & McCallion sign at 1640 Periwinkle Way, and, of course, come in to see us before continuing on your way. Just before the road comes to a “T” where Periwinkle Way meets Tarpon Bay Road, you’ll see signs for Bailey’s General Store – a locally owned and operated grocery store, serving the island for nearly 120 years!
Image courtesy of Bailey’s General Store
History of Bailey’s General Store
The story behind the Bailey’s General Store dates back to 1899 when Francis “Frank” P. Bailey Sr. founded the Sanibel Packing Company to service the family’s vegetable farming business. Supplementing the Bailey family’s farming and packing business was the Bailey’s General Store, which sold supplies as well as other food items such as flour, beans and grits. The family store was located at the mouth of the San Carlos Bay, where the Sanibel Ferry and mail boat brought passengers, tourists, mail and goods on island.
Frank P. Bailey Sr. – Image courtesy of Hampend-Sydney College
Francis P. Bailey Jr. describes the early island days similar to other rural areas in the early 20th century, except of course, there was only one school, dusty unpaved roads, and a swarms of mosquitos. In an interview with his alma mater Hampend-Sydney College, Francis talk’s about his experience growing up on Sanibel Island, going away to school and returning to the island once again.
Everything changed on May 23, 1963, Bailey mentioned – the date that the Sanibel Causeway bridge opened to traffic. In fact, the bridge replaced the need for the Sanibel mailboat, leaving Bailey’s General Store at the end of a quite, dead-end road. Just three years after the Causeway opened, the family moved the store to its current location at 2477 Periwinkle Way, where it has flourished to become a special Sanibel Island institution.
Francis P Bailey, Jr., pictured below, continued the family-owned and operated store with his brother, Sam Bailey, after their father’s passing. The Bailey brothers were both actively involved in the Sanibel community, helping the City of Sanibel grow and expand, while keeping the island’s roots and traditions close to heart. Today, Bailey’s General Store is in it’s third generation of Bailey family ownership. Visiting the store, you’ll experience the same – if not more – island charm than when the store first opened doors more than a century ago!
Francis P. Bailey Jr. (2012) – Image courtesy of Hampend-Sydney College
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the Bailey’s General Store, which has grown to include its own coffee bar, deli, bakery and even catering services! I often order a platter of sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, fruit or cookies for our office parties and family gatherings. Sometimes, I stop by Bailey’s to grab a cup of coffee and sit outside to get some work done.
Our kid’s favorite part of any trip to Bailey’s is of course, visiting the bakery, where the kind ladies behind the counter sometimes offer a complimentary chocolate chip cookie on the house!
Abbie and I enjoying a “Bailey’s Office Date”
Bailey’s General Store has a great “small town Sanibel” atmosphere with strong roots in the island’s history. I encourage you to stop at Bailey’s on your next stroll down Periwinkle Way… after you stop in and see us, of course. 😃
Click here to visit the Bailey’s General Store website and learn more about the Bailey family.
Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel Island