The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 28, 2013

Local business owner still running the show at age 91

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— A local business owner recently turned 91 years old, but he continues to operate his store every day, after 28 years of business.

Tracy Hylton, owner of the Grandview Country Store, celebrated his 91st birthday on Independence Day, but he says he still spends eight or nine hours at the store every day.

“I enjoy it,” Hylton said. “It keeps me active.”

He started the Grandview Country Store back in the 1980s as a hobby, and as a way to provide jobs in the community.

“We sold a little bit of everything: groceries, hay, decorative stone, rock for construction, playground equipment, dirt and farming supplies.”

Hylton was no stranger to owning a business though — he spent 55 years in the coal business as a mine owner.

He said he started working for Eastern Gas and Fuel when he was 15 years old. He later became a boss at a mine in Itmann in Wyoming County, but he decided he wanted to go into business for himself.

“I started with a pony pulling coal out of the mines, and I worked my way up to equipment.”

He worked with several different companies, but he said in all of his 55 years, he never failed to pay an invoice or to pay an employee.

Hylton still stands by those values at the Grandview Country Store, but he said he fears for both the coal industry and small retail stores.

“The state of West Virginia is going to have a hard time having a balanced budget because of the tax losses from the decline in the coal industry.”

He added, “The store is tough to operate with the economic conditions today. Chain stores like Walmart are taking out small businesses.”

One ray of hope, however, can be found with the Boy Scouts Summit Bechtel Reserve.

“The Summit is a great investment in our state and a great investment for the kids.”

Although Hylton did not see any business in his store from the Boy Scouts and the visitors during the Jamboree, he said it could potentially be a big help to small businesses in southern West Virginia.

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