Before the supermarket boom, there were corner markets that predominated neighborhoods where most people did their grocery shopping. These corner markets sold all of your food staples and much, much more. They were convenient, hospitable, and served as a neighborhood junction for the exchange of ideas, beliefs and gossip in much the same way as barbershops and beauty salons still do today. It was typical for owners of these neighborhood markets to live in the neighborhood if not above the store itself. They were part of the community and often took an active interest in what best served its needs. The Family Stone is set in the memory of these institutions long gone from most of the American economic landscape.
It is the year following the long, hot summer in America. Abraham and Winona Stone are the proud owners of Willie’s Market, a corner grocery store in an urban community known as East Liberty, a Mecca where those within the community can catch up on the latest gossip and fascinating facts regarding their uncommon neighbors. Theresa Peoples, a beautician during the week, a nude dancer on the weekends. Jessie Wilkerson, philosopher, a learned man of unknown origin and past. The Widow Powell a community fixture. Reverend Embry Wilshire, a man on a quest to redeem every sinner’s soul, his own being his most challenging. Virginia Lovejoy, a beautiful and seductive woman with questionable virtues and a strong attraction for Abraham. Darius X, a young Muslim determined to help his brethren remove their societal shackles while searching for his own truths. Wallace Hickman, steel mill worker, devout family man, and good willed Christian and the Brown family, forthright Christians with little tolerance for heathen mistakes. These characters, and more, round out the stories of this neighborhood cast in The Family Stone.