After being closed for eight years, Carter’s General Store in the small community of Lynch Station, which sits astride Campbell and Bedford counties, once again is open and back in the Carter family.
The store was purchased a few months ago by Stanley Goldsmith, former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, former Altavista Town Manager and husband of the late Helen “Baby” Carter Goldsmith, who died a year and a half ago.
In honor of his late wife, Stanley Goldsmith decided to purchase the vacant store, which had been closed for eight years, and restore it to its former glory.
Stanley and son Kyle spent months bringing the iconic structure on Bedford Highway back to life and last week reopened the 140-year-old store. Kyle will be operating the store along with his wife, Cheri, and son, Josiah.
The store originally was opened in 1879 by L.C. Carter who ran it until his son, C.L. “Charlie” Carter, took it over in 1916. The younger Carter ran it until 1961.
Calvin Carter, Kyle Goldsmith’s uncle, acquired the store in 1960 and ran it until he died in 2008. Calvin Carter left the store to his son, Lee Carter, who ran it until he closed the store eight years ago.
When it first opened, the store was a leading distributor of Craddock Terry and Red Ball shoes, Kyle Goldsmith said. It also sold Gulf Oil and gas, produce, food, clothes, repair parts, hardware and feed for animals. He said it was the closest thing to a mall back then.
Today, he hopes people will feel the same way about the store since there are no retail establishments nearby.
The 1,800-square-foot store plans to provide a full grocery line, a deli and gas along with auto products, boating supplies, lake supplies, fishing and tackle items, ice cream, pizza, a coffee stand and other normal convenience store items.
Kyle Goldsmith is excited to feature some antique furniture, décor and farm equipment to be placed on display to provide a feeling of nostalgia when customers walk inside the store.
Tim Wood, 59, grew up down the street from the store and remembers walking there frequently when his mother would give him change to buy candy or a drink. He remembers the community being very laid back growing up and compares it to Mayberry in “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“Everybody got together, and the store was the gathering place,” he said. “People would just come down and sit and hang out.”
He said former owner Calvin Carter was a friend to everyone. Wood remembered a time when he was about 10 years old that he went to buy four nails for a project and Carter gave them to him free of charge.
Now Wood lives across the street from the store in a house he bought three years ago.
“I think it’s fantastic myself,” he said. “We need this here. You had to drive all the way to Altavista to get gas for your lawnmower or to get a drink. It’s a great asset to the community.”
Megan Lucas, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, said she is thrilled the Goldsmiths decided to reopen the store that has been in their family for generations.
“Commerce and free enterprise always starts at home, and this is a fabulous example of how it continues to grow,” she said. “Kyle and Stan Goldsmith have been a part of the regional business community for a long time and we wish them the greatest success.”
She added the Alliance is excited to try hoop cheese at the store — a staple product that used to be sold there years ago.
Kyle Goldsmith said he has been overwhelmed by the positive response from the community and said he hopes they find the store to be not only convenient but also to bring back some old memories and relive old times.
“I’m excited about preserving the heritage of our country and the sole proprietorship of the mom-and-pop existence,” he said.
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.