I just wanted to post quickly, on a busy morning, about an upcoming "Absolute" auction of Hazel's store in Mintonville [Hwy 837 North, just over the Casey County line]. I have often written about Hazel and her store as she was one of the first to welcome us here and we often stop for "pop," The Casey County News or to get the local "news." We live only a few miles away as the crow flies, just over the next county line, or about 8 miles if you take the better tended country roads and highways.
For a brief time last winter, I thought of buying Hazel's when she said she wanted to retire. But my calling is elsewhere. [And besides, I'd probably watched too many episodes of The Waltons and have more of a sentimental attachment to such places–like Ike Godsey's on Walton's Mountain–but Hazel's store is like stepping into another era, without deliberately trying to do so.] However, it would be the perfect business opportunity for a young couple or retirees and would only require a bit of cash–and some Murphy's Oil Soap–to fix it up: as it is an "absolute" auction, the place will go to the highest bidder (and it has been for sale for over a year so who knows what the bidding might bring?).
There are two gas pumps, an eclectic inventory, even a lunch counter. The original details are all there, such as the matchboard walls, shelving and the tin ceiling. There is even a front porch and an old tin roof. The structure is built like many country stores in Kentucky: with a sloping roof and shed-style construction and a side room that housed the local post office branch or served as a store owner's apartment. It is an original Cracker Barrel®! You can try but you just can't manufacture what stores like this offer to a small country community.
The store is in Mintonville and at the edge of Casey County's prosperous Mennonite community (Turkey Creek Road, which runs out of the South Fork Creek area, comes right into Mintonville at Highway 837). With the right marketing, it could likely be better traveled than it has been in recent years. But sadly, these old country stores are a dying breed. Casey County is fortunate to still have several of them, including historic Penn's Store in Gravel Switch, the oldest continuously operated store by the same family in the United States. My son Eli and I also discovered Peggy Tarter's store in Dunnville during the Highway 127 Yard Sale last August.
We plan to attend Hazel's auction and I am hoping the right bidder will be there: someone to tend the place as Hazel has, putting their own mark on the little store and maybe some muffins on the counter or a few pies...in fact, I might know just the person and need to go call her right now. [And don't worry, Rosemary, it's not you...as much as I might like it to be!]
So here's to Hazel Wesley and Peggy Tarter and Jeanne Penn Lane and all of the country storekeepers of Kentucky who have kept this tradition alive in an era of over-lit gas station megaplexes and corporate American strip shopping. Thank you. PHOTO: My husband and our two boys get Cokes while chatting with Hazel on one of our first visits to the region a few years ago.
NOTE: Godby Realty & Auction is handling the sale of the Mintonville Store on Friday, November 20, 2009 at 10am. You can find out more about the auction, and download a PDF of the flyer, at this address. [Go to "Auctions" page and look for "Absolute Auction-Grocery Store"]