If there was ever a visual in this county that proved the saying, “build it and they will come,” it was on display all day and into the night Saturday in Buckeye at the grand opening of the Buckeye Home, Farm, Lawn and Garden Center – an offshoot of Buckeye Country Mart.
Early morning rain did not dampen the spirits nor deter the crowd – of nearly 500 – that came out to enjoy a day of music, food – provided by the Pocahontas Community Club – games and fireworks, and to show their support to owner Roger Pritt as he embarks on a new venture that will add to the county’s economy.
Pritt purchased Buckeye Country Mart a little over 10 years ago, and in that time he has doubled the size of the store and the number of products provided there.
As traffic congestion became a issue, Pritt looked for a way to streamline his operation.
His plan was to move his landscaping products to the old drive-in theatre lot, which he had purchased a few years ago.
Over time, that small plan grew into a full-service store which will supply a multitude of products to the community.
Another saying proved true in this story, as well.
“Irony can be pretty ironic, sometimes.”
As a young boy, Pritt said he got his first “steady income” when he took on the job of cleaning up the trash at the drive-in on the mornings following the movie of the night before.
Now, as the owner, he has breathed new life into that property and into the town of Buckeye.
The huge turn-out for the grand opening can be attributed to Pritt’s reputation as a hard worker, as well as to his reputation for excellent customer service through the years.
“He’s worked hard,” Charlotte Hamons, of Marlinton, said. “He deserves everything he gets.”
Pritt has worked hard all his life, and in so doing, he has made lifelong friends.
Bill Gram, of Ashwood, Virginia, met Pritt when they worked together at the VEPCO Dam project, often pouring 1,000 yards of concrete at night.
That may explain why it was nothing out of the ordinary for Pritt and his brother, Curtis, to be working the cement pad for the store late into the night of last year’s warm December. They worked by the headlights of trucks and vans.
“I’ve never known a man who has done so much with his life,” Gram said. “You can give Roger a couple of cinderblocks, and they don’t have to be new, just something he’s picked up somewhere, and he sees something amazing.”
A person would be hard pressed to argue with that.
“If sleep didn’t get in his way, he would work twenty-four hours a day,” Melvin Martin, of Buckeye, said.
Several county officials and candidates were present at the grand opening.
Pocahontas County Commission president Bill Beard and Commissioner Jamie Walker commended Pritt for his work.
“This is what I like to see,” Beard said. “These small businesses mean so much to Pocahontas County, and it takes people who have a dream and a desire and the ambition to get it done. We are lucky to have people like Roger who really put that dream to work.”
Commissioner Walker echoed those sentiments.
“This has been a pretty dead looking spot when you come through Buckeye,” Walker said of the past few years. “We need the dreams and ideas of people like Mr. Pritt, that will help the county; people who will invest in stuff like this. It looks great. It’s one of the best things that’s happened in the lower end of the county since I’ve been here.”
Roger Trusler, representing the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce, was on hand to direct the ribbon cutting for the event.
“Roger is to be commended for his hard work,” Trusler said. “It goes to show that with hard work and perseverance, many dreams can become realized.”
Pritt, who is a man of few words, addressed the crowd.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out this morning,” Pritt said. “This is a big, new adventure for us, and we couldn’t have done it without all of our friends and customers over the years. We’ve had a wonderful ten years. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a public speaker. I just want to thank you – a thousand times over.”
This “adventure” came into being by the work of the Pritt’s hands, those of his brother, Curtis, their cousin, Junior Pritt and Rusty Pritt, and a host of friends who chipped in to help, when needed.
Pritt appreciates every bit of the help he received.
Pendleton Community Bank Customer Service Representative Lauren Dunbrack was on hand to express the bank’s appreciation for being allowed to be a part of this new business.
Cars filled the lot and lined Rt. 219 Saturday, not unlike the early days of the Buckeye Drive-In.
Marlinton resident, and former Buckeye resident, Edith Barrett was in attendance.
“I was here for the first night of the drive-in, and I am here today for this,” Barrett said.
As people perused the well-stocked store, the Eades Mountain Boys and Half Step Down provided music from the bed of a wagon, provided by Clint Gunter, of Gunter’s General Store at Edray.
Buckeye Home, Farm, Lawn and Garden offers everything – from various feeds for animals to electrical and plumbing supplies. There are cant hooks and peaveys for the logger or serious landscaper, water heaters, gloves, signs, flower pots and watering cans. You can rent a U-Haul, buy a Mennonite-constructed building or a carport.
If Pritt doesn’t have it, he will get it for you.
Look for the landscaping and greenhouse addition in the spring. Farm gates and feeders are on the way. Fence posts and wire are already in stock.
“I never thought I’d see the day that Buckeye would have a WalMart,” Buckeye resident Mike Rogers said.
Winter hours for the Buckeye Home, Farm Lawn and Garden Center are Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The phone number is 304-799-0860.
Buckeye Country Mart is open seven days a week, and may be reached at 304-799-6880.