Medora - Official Ticket Site of the Medora Musical | The Story of the Joe Ferris General Store

The Story of the Joe Ferris General Store

June 1, 2022  |  Written by Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

Today, the Joe Ferris General Store is home to a variety of merchandise including apparel, jewelry, games, home goods, and other unique keepsakes that you can only find in Medora.

But do you know the history behind it?

What Many People Don’t Know Is…

The Joe Ferris General Store is actually a famous historical landmark here in Medora. So what’s the story behind it? 

Joe Ferris was one of the first people to settle in Little Missouri in 1881. He was working as a stable boss when Theodore Roosevelt arrived in the area in 1883 on his quest to shoot a buffalo. Joe agreed to be his guide and this was the start of a friendship that lasted for the rest of their lives. 

Ferris, a man with good reputation in town, gave a loan to a Swede named Johnny Nelson who owned a dry-goods store in Little Missouri. One night, Nelson disappeared without paying his debt so Joe attached his building and became a storekeeper.

One year later, in 1885, he celebrated the grand opening of his own Ferris Store in Medora. He and his wife set up housekeeping in the rooms above the store and they always had a room reserved for Theodore Roosevelt whenever he spent the night in town. 

When the Marquis’ enterprises failed, almost every business in town closed its doors but the Ferris Store was not one of them! Joe kept it open for many years to come and eventually sold it in 1909. The original Ferris Store closed down in 1925.

In 1963, the store was reopened by Harold Schafer and the Gold Seal Company and it still stands in the spot where Joe Ferris built it in 1883. As you can see, the store doesn’t hold exactly the same kind of supplies as it did when TR stayed there. 

But you can get a feel for what the store might have been like back then while you hunt for the perfect souvenirs for your loved ones at home. 

This is the perfect place to get sweet treats to bring back with you!

Browse through the unique home décor! Surprise a loved one with fun games and other witty trinkets! And, of course, stock up on classic Badlands apparel you won’t find anywhere else!

Come check out the history and fun gifts you can find at the Joe Ferris General Store!