Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 19

COUNTRY ROADS

ALDERSON'S STORE

LEGACY LIVES
Alderson's, of Alderson, West Virginia, has held
on against the tide of retail closings.

D

owntown businesses open and
close in the blink of an eye these
days. But not all. Some mercantiles
have managed to stick around to
serve five or six generations of shoppers.
Alderson's store in Alderson, West
Virginia, is one of these long-lasting
perennials. Although two or three
other general stores in the southern
Appalachians are a few years older,
Alderson's store is the region's oldest
general store continuously operated
by the same family.
And in spring 2020-its 134th
year-Alderson's will be adding the
electronic component to its sales.
Sarah Alderson, fourth generation
owner, says some of the store's merchandise can be purchased online.
Ever since its founding in 1887,
J.M. Alderson General Merchandise
(now just Alderson's) has been owned
by the Alderson family. The general
store sold necessities including patent
medicines, glassware, lamps, shoes
and groceries. Now Sarah Alderson
presides over an eclectic mix of gifts,
jewelry, glassware, purses, antiques,
clothing, and a big collection of West
Virginia-themed books.
"It's quite a mix," says Sarah Alderson. "We've returned to our gen-

eral store roots."
The great-granddaughter of the store's founder,
Alderson moved back
home seven years ago to
help her mother, Betty
June Thompson Alderson, manage the shop.
The store reverted to a
general store under Sarah's influence.
Sarah Alderson says the
interior looks exactly like
it did when built, and she
has pictures to prove it. The
store is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places.
Sitting just yards from
the Greenbrier River, the
business has survived fire,
basement flooding and time. The
original store burned to the ground
in 1930, but was rebuilt on the same
block.
Alderson's Store has become a
destination, a reason for a day trip
from nearby Greenbrier and Pipestem resorts. Although at first glance,
the store appears a throwback to the
time of church hats and white gloves,
much of its merchandise is surprisingly modern.

Sarah Alderson
stands outside the
historic store bearing
her family's name
in the town also
carrying that name.

Patrons praise the Alderson's personal attention. Sarah keeps a "customer wish
list" notebook she takes on
buying trips, always looking
for things to delight individual customers.
Alderson's Store: 203 S. Monroe
St., Alderson. Hours seasonal; 304445-2851; or Facebook.
-SU CLAUSON-WICKER

30 Years Ago in Blue Ridge Country

"Someone told me while I was visiting the [Valle Crucis, North Carolina] area that I had to see the
Mast Store. I walked around with some friends and I was fascinated. I wanted to explore every nook
and cranny."
-John Cooper, from the May/June, 1990 issue, about 10 years after he and his wife, Faye, bought
and reopened the store. The Cooper family was scheduled to open its 10th Mast General, in Roanoke,
Virginia, on April 8.

MAY/JUNE 2020

19



Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 6
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 8
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover3
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover4
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