The Old Country Store
No, this isn't The Homestead (our soon-to-be family store), but rather an old country grocery deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, just at the mouth of Owens Branch Holler.
The old grocery store was built in the 1930's. It is a rather large building with apartments above and below. Mike's parents lived in one of the small apartments when Mike's sister was born and when Mike's dad worked in the coal mine.
A few years ago a family friend, Roscoe Shepherd, bought and began to run the old store. Roscoe has quite the story to tell of how he hit rock bottom financially prior to buying the store. He had just a few dollars in his pocket one evening as he drove to church and God led him to pick up a hitchhiker and buy him dinner with those last few dollars. He had just spare change left as he headed to church that night and tossed all that he had in the offering plate. Roscoe is a simple man with deep faith and obedience to what God asks him to do...such an amazing lesson for many of us to learn. God has certainly blessed his obedience and soon after he gave all he had, he was able to make enough money to buy the old grocery store and apartments.
Today he still owns the store, called Shepherds Grocery, but leases it out for others to run. I imagine it hasn't changed much at all in the past 70 years. There is a cash register but next to the cash register is the old system of allowing the regulars to put their goods on their tab.
The onion sets sit just below the candy. The pinball machine is plugged in right next to the nuts and bolts. Beyond the dog food and hardware section is a bed with a quilt on it. This is where Roscoe (and I suppose the new owners) would rest between customers.
Driving past Shepherds Grocery you may think it is just a sweet little store that does just enough to get by. On the contrary. This humble grocery store thrives on the business of generations of families living deep in these mountain hollers. The closest Walmart is over an hour away for some so having the opportunity to buy a loaf of bread, feed for their farm animals or gas for their four wheelers they ride all up and down these mountain roads is essential to this mountain community.
Today Mike's mom is married to Roscoe. Mike's dad, Lendell, passed away just months after we married 12 years ago. A little over a year ago Mike performed the ceremony at Roscoe and JoeAnne's wedding. It is a beautiful story really. Roscoe and Lendell were close friends that met at the coal mine and now years later Roscoe and JoeAnne can both reminisce about their memories and build new ones together.