Gaithersburg began as an agricultural community. With the coming of the railroad in the late 1800's, markets in Washington and Baltimore were opening up to area farmers. Wheat, vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy products, and cider could be easily moved to markets in larger cities. The Gaithersburg area flourished and soon became the center of farming activity in Montgomery County. In addition to commercial farming, domestic farming was also common. A family often raised its own chickens, cows, and pigs, and cultivated its own produce.
Southern States Co-op opened in the 1930's to serve farmers and the agricultural community at large, selling feed, seed, fertilizer, and farm supplies. The company, based in Richmond, Virginia, offered a much wider variety of products than locally owned businesses. Goods shipped from Richmond to DC were easily transported via railroad to the Gaithersburg store loction, which was strategically located near the train station.