The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

March 16, 2014

Little General building ‘green,’ giving locally

Newest, largest site opens

Little General Stores is constantly expanding and improving, but no matter how big the company gets, community will always be at the top of its priority list.

The newest and largest location opened its doors Friday in MacArthur, equipped with 16 fueling stations, diesel stations for tractor-trailers and two fast food restaurants, Subway and Arby’s.

The MacArthur store also joins the Stanaford, Flat Top, Quincy and Fairmont “green” locations, as they were all equipped with LED lighting and energy-efficient plumbing.

Little General President Greg Darby said he’s just doing his part to help the environment and save on electricity.

All of the employees from the previous MacArthur Little General are still employed there, and additional employees were hired with the store’s expansion.

“It’s good to be able to open a new location in our backyard,” said Brian Waugh, director of retail. “We look forward to continuing to meet the shopping, convenience, fuel and eating needs of the people in Raleigh County.”

Waugh said this location will accept and redeem the Fueland Loyalty card, and it will have an ATM, New River Coffee, f’REAL Milkshakes, Pepsi fountain drinks, Lipton fountain tea and more.

Harry Gilbert started building a chain of convenience stores to go along with his fuel distribution back in 1975. Darby joined the team in 1980, and he said back then, the chain had eight locations.

When Darby and Cory Beas-ley purchased the Little General chain in 1999, they were up to 38 stores and today, there are 117 locations.

No matter how much Little General expands, Darby said the community is always on their mind.

All contractors for the construction are local. He said a team typically travels around with them to lay bricks, build canopies and perform electrical and plumbing work.

Little General is the No. 1 sponsor of Remember the Miners, which helps fund scholarships for mine-related families, and the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer fund.

The chain also gives its own set of scholarships to high school seniors — 15 $1,000 scholarships are given each year. Darby said students near any of the Little General Stores can apply, and locations are even in Ohio and Virginia.

Little General also hosts fundraising drives for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots and the Children’s Home Society. The chain also sponsors local Little League teams and other sports.

“It’s great to get to help kids in our little towns and communities,” said Darby, who has been a lifelong resident of Beaver himself.

He said he’s talked to many of the parents and kids who have received scholarships and they are very thankful for Little General’s help.

“It’s very important to be involved in your community and in the kids — they are our future. We believe it’s the right thing to do, to give back to the community we operate in. Our money stays right here.”

More than 1,400 people are employed at Little General’s 117 locations, Darby said, and the chain has been named one of the largest private employers in the state.

“We pride ourselves on being locally owned and operated.”

He said the stores are very supportive of West Virginia University, Marshall University, Concord University and Fairmont State University.

Other Raleigh County locations could possibly be rebuilt, Darby said, and a new site in Hurricane will open in April with a Dunkin’ Donuts.

For more information about Little General Stores, visit www.lgstores.com.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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