Priddy’s General Store By Gerald Yokeley
hen Lula Priddy and her husband, Noah, went into the general store business in 1929, they didn’t give much thought to how long the store would be there. Yet here it is more than 80 years later, and Priddy’s General Store still sells the basic and not-so-basic necessities in rural Stokes County, not far from Danbury. First opened by the Hartman family in 1888, this was like many general stores so important to farm communities. Noah farmed, Lula managed the store, and they raised eight children. It was the Great Depression and neighbors traded whatever they could in order to buy something here. Miss Lula took in eggs, chickens and anything else homegrown and homemade in payment for those basic necessities. After World War II, the store lived through some prosperous years. One day in 1948, a Shell Oil man stopped by and talked to Lula about switching from Gulf Oil gasoline to Shell. Lula and Noah thought it over and said they’d change to Shell if the salesman would pay for painting the store Shell Oil yellow. Priddy’s Store still shows a shade of Shell Oil yellow. One of the paint cans they used hangs on the wall inside. In the late 1950s, Lula’s health began to fail. Her children had helped at the store, but the youngest son, Elwood, said he would take it over and did in 1960. He and his wife, Pat, added some product lines, including a McCulloch chainsaw dealership next door. They raised three daughters and ran the store much as Lula and Noah had. Pat remembers when the Davidson EMC electric co-op (now part of EnergyUnited) told Stokes County members that instead of mailing payments they could pay their power bill at a collection box in
the back of Priddy’s store, if they wished. The co-op would pay the Priddy family 10 cents per bill for collecting those payments. Pat grinned when remembering how most people did not trust that payment box on the wall. Tragedy struck in 1999 when a speeding driver ran a red light and took Elwood Priddy’s life. Jane, one of the couple’s daughters, stepped in to help her mother at the store. Jane herself was raising three small children. After graduating from Appalachian State in 1986, Jane worked 10 years for Estee Lauder cosmetics and was the Danbury mayor for 10 years, but she had always hoped to be involved with preserving the family store. Now past 80, Pat still helps when she can, along with Jane’s sister Amy and Amy’s husband, Tim. Jane aims to maintain an authentic country store. She carries local seasonal produce and art, along with homemade dried apple pies, June daisy hoop cheese, purple sweet potato butter and overalls. The wooden floors creak and groan. Near the old woodstove and scales, soda pop bottles and rusted signs adorn the shelves and walls. And then there’s the live bluegrass music in February, May, October and December. “Pickin’ at Priddy’s” is a Stokes County tradition in itself. Musicians come from all over the Carolina and Virginia mountains. It all looks and feels and smells Served by EnergyUnited and sounds just like an oldPriddy’s General Store time reunion. 2121 Sheppard Mill Rd.
Gerald Yokeley is a freelance writer/photographer living in Tobaccoville.
2 miles outside of Danbury Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.–6 p.m. (336) 593-8786 www.priddysgeneralstore.com Carolina Country OCTOBER 2010 25