By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Third generation owner of Longs store, Ben Long is celebrating 100 years of being in business in Parsons. In 1922 Long’s grandfather started the business on Walnut Street as a nickel and dime store named B.F. Long & Co. Later the price of merchandise offered would raise to .25 cents and $1. The store has survived when others have not.
In 1917 Long’s grandfather moved his family from Clarksburg to Parsons with the dream of becoming a successful store owner. Many told the grandfather that he would come to Tucker County and go broke. The grandfather just said he did not intend to go broke, and he proved them all wrong. The grandfather would open that store in a rented space on Walnut Street for two years, 1922 and 1923, and afterwards would move to the store’s current location and remain for 98 years.
After graduating West Virginia University in 1934 Long’s father came to work at the store alongside Long’s grandfather. Long’s father would continue to work at the store for 50 years while raising a family of four. Around the time of the 1985 flood Long’s father turned the store over to Long.
The store originally was a cannery located down the street behind Longs. Before his grandfather purchased the building, the people who owned the building at the time moved the building to the front of the street by rolling it on logs pulled by teams of horses. The store still has the original wood flooring, but the back is an addition that was added on in 1938.
During the 1985 floor there was more than eight feet of water inside the store. The markings can still be seen on a gas heater attached to the wall. After the flood Long had to replace 73 feet of foundation. Long and a friend saved the building by jacking up the building with railroad jacks and replacing the washed-out foundation.
Long said, “I went up to the courthouse to see about papers to have it torn down and they told me I had to sign it for it to be torn down. I shoved the paper back at them and said so be it. The courthouse said I would have to pay to have it torn down and I said fine and walked out. I knew right then I was going to redo the store.”
Inside the store an enormous ball of twine can be found on display. Long explained that his grandfather kept every piece of twine that came on packages for the store. Long said, “My grandfather saved every piece of string that packages were tied with because back then they did not used tape, they tied the packages with string. And he saved it and wound it on the ball.”
Long’s store no longer carries the nickel and dime selection but hosts an array of guns and ammunition, fishing poles and tackle, Lodge cast iron cookware, canning supplies and about anything you cannot find anywhere else.
Long hopes one day when he is ready to retire his son, a fourth generation Long, will come in and take over. At 78 years old Long has no plans of retiring anytime soon. Long said, “Right now I am in good health, and I plan to stay awhile.”
When asked why he has been so successful for 100 years Long said, “Good customers! We have had good, loyal customers for 100 years and we still do. That is what keeps us going is our customers.”
The week of the 100-year anniversary Long intends to host a chicken burn to show customer appreciation. Long said, “We will have a chicken burn on the July 30, with some drinks. We will have some items to sell and some to give away.”