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Sharp's Store
100 Years of Nostalgia in Pocahontas County

Text and photographs by Carl E. Feather

Sharps Store
Tom Shipley at Sharp's Country Store, along U.S. Route 219 in rural Pocahontas County. Photograph by Carl E. Feather.

“I came here at 7 p.m. on December 14, 2004,” says Tom Shipley as he stands amid the antique glass showcases and shelves filled with collectibles, museum pieces, and homemade items in Sharp’s Country Store, a Route 219 landmark in rural Pocahontas County since the 1920’s.

Ninety-year-old Dave Sharp transferred his family’s 300-plus acres of farmland and woodlands, farmhouse, 19th-century log home, barns, orchards, and iconic gas station/museum/antiques store to Tom, his grand-nephew, about 10 years ago. Tom is the great-grandson of L.D. Sharp (1872-1963), Dave’s father and the founder of this enterprise.

Growing up in Parkersburg, Tom says his childhood recollections of this historic wide spot on the Seneca Trail were as a venue for the annual family reunion. Tom left the state following high school and became an actor, theatrical producer, wine merchant, and antiques dealer — far from the mountains of West Virginia.

He had just turned 50 when he was entrusted with the property and felt as if his ship had finally arrived. He planned to transport his inventory of antiques to Pocahontas County and continue his business in the peaceful Little Elk River valley, while revitalizing the tourist landmark. He planned to literally “live the high life” by building a modern home on the ridge overlooking the old store and tired farmhouse.

“You see things differently when you grow up in the city,” Tom says, recalling his perspective at that time. “I was racking up the dollar signs in my mind.”

On January 1, 2005, while walking his property in the morning following an ice storm, Tom had an epiphany as his mind tried to process the stunning landscape.

“It all started welling up inside of me,” he says. “The tears started to run down my cheeks. I realized what was so important to my family about this place.”

About that same time, Tom got an ominous letter.

You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.