ABIQUIÚ — Bait worms, blouses and beer.
A tank flapper, a sink strainer and fire-resistant mortar.
Fix-a-Flat, mouse traps and Fabuloso.
Where can you get all these items and more?
Bode’s Mercantile and General Store, of course.
The Northern New Mexico institution celebrated its 100th year in business Saturday, and the stock on its shelves still reflects the eclectic mix of customers — native New Mexicans from surrounding rural villages; art lovers drawn by the lore of renowned painter Georgia O’Keeffe; outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the nearby lake — who have kept it in business since before women won the right to vote.
The rambling country store, where boxes of nails abut a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s, actually started in 1890 as Grant’s Mercantile, a general store, post office, stagecoach stop and — wait for it — jail.
But according to the store’s website, it became Bode’s in 1919 when it was purchased by Martin Bode, whose family owned it until 1994, when Martin’s son Karl Bode — the last Bode to run the store — sold it to Dennis C. Liddy.
Along with his wife, Constance, Liddy has owned it ever since.
Liddy told the Rio Grande Sun newspaper in 1994 that he had no intention of changing the character of the country general store.
“The store has always been pretty much what the customers have made it,” Liddy said at the time. “We sell what the customers need on a daily basis and I can’t see changing that. I don’t view it as a convenience store. I guess in a traditional sense, it’s a real general store. It’s wild: everything you could think of is under this roof it seems.”
The store’s current general manager, Veronica Olivas-Madrid, who has worked there since 1996, said Bode’s merchandise actually has evolved over time. But the Liddys’ goal has remained simple: Cater to customers, particularly those from the nearby — and maybe not-so-nearby — villages of Dulce, Gallina and Cordova, to name a few.
You no longer can purchase lumber or live chickens, but Bode’s still sells salt blocks, chicken feed and birdseed.
Ben Serna, 33, who cuts and hauls lumber in Canjilon and Ojo Caliente and stops at Bode’s nearly every day for food or when he needs parts for his chain saw, said when he was a child, the store was decorated with stuffed deer heads and mounted fish caught by local hunters and anglers.
Those are gone now, and Bode’s stopped selling fishing licenses in 2013. But the store still stocks reels, rods, fishing tackle and all sorts of outdoors gear (don’t forget your tent stakes, pocket knives and compasses).
Bode’s has a few gas pumps out front, and a large multilevel parking lot where trip leaders meet customers coming to raft the Rio Chama.
Inside the rambling building just off U.S. 84 between Española and Tierra Amarilla, the departments that spill over into one another offer a glimpse of the people who shop there.
Just inside the door is the sunscreen, sun hat and sunglasses area, where the rafters or boaters headed to nearby Abiquiú Lake can make sure they are protected from the sun, or pull out cash from an ATM to tip their guides.
That flows into the fishing department, which meanders into the stoneware, ironware and enamelware section, where blue speckled coffee pots with matching cups and plates are displayed alongside sturdy Dutch ovens and cornbread pans.
In a nook with a pressed-tin ceiling festooned with Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer flags, visitors can pick up greeting cards, woven shawls, folk art, even a sundress.
Bibliophiles can peruse two shelves of books that focus on O’Keeffe and the history and geography of the area.
The grocery aisles are stocked with a diverse mix of foods and household goods — including nail clippers, shoelaces, saddle soap, votive candles and extension cords — that reflect the increasingly diverse population of the area.
Olivas-Madrid said the eclectic mix of products is the result in part of the owners’ willingness to stock specialty items at the request of regular customers.
She said the Liddys live in Abiquiú and both regularly work at Bode’s.
The store was approved for a liquor license in 1999, and sells beer and spirits, and includes a mini wine shop, where bottles selected by Constance Liddy share shelf spaces with corkscrews, coasters and cheese boards.
There is a cafe inside, with seating for about 30. Customers can order a variety of made-to-order meals including Bode’s nationally recognized green chile cheeseburger, fish and chips and a Ruben sandwich one longtime customer said rivals anything found on the East Coast.
Bode’s — which employees about 22 people — also makes all its own baked goods.
A children’s section offers mini-board games to help restless tots while away the miles on long road trips.
“Original Nose Flute,” anyone?
But more than anything, said longtime customer Jean Brewer, Bode’s offers a community gathering place.
“It’s a great place to meet for coffee,” said Brewer, 77, enjoying her monthly coffee klatch with three friends at Bode’s recently. “You don’t feel like you are getting the bum’s rush, and the food is really good.”
Olivas-Madrid said the Liddys are committed to sustaining the hometown feeling. Sometimes that means letting a regular pump a few gallons of gas in the morning with the promise that their mother will be by to pay for it at noon; donating cases of bottled water to high school sports teams whose buses stop on their way to away games; allowing locals to hold bake-sale fundraisers in front of the store on Sundays.
In a lot of ways, it doesn’t feel like 2019. It feels like ‘39, ‘49 or ‘79.
Bode’s is big. It’s just not big box.
“It’s still the community store,” Olivas-Madrid said. “They never wanted to lose that.”
Whether you need fresh ground coffee, a solar lantern, a giant Hershey bar, a camouflage bandana, dog food, fresh cherries, a kiva-shaped incense burner, an Abiquiú T-shirt, a broom, a shovel or a dozen minnows, Bode’s has it.
It even sells bumper stickers that say, “I whizzed at Bode’s,” in case all you really needed was a public restroom, because they have that, too, and 100 other things you might not know you need until you get there.
As the locals like to say: If Bode’s doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.