Pritt brothers add ﾑwowﾒ factor to local business
An ad for Buckeye Country Mart ran in the December 15 edition of The Pocahontas Times simply stated, "We will be closed Monday, December 19, for remodeling.ﾠ Reopening Tuesday, December 20, for business as usual (we hope.)"
The amount of work to be done in that short time frame was pretty daunting, but folks who know owner Roger Pritt and his brother, Curtis, knew, without a doubt, they could pull it off. And they did. The store reopenedﾠ December 20, after anﾠ intensive 23 ﾽ hours of painting, rearranging and cleaning.ﾠ Roger's wife, Joy, Curtis' wife, Ilene, and part-time Buckeye Country Mart employee Clara "Tink" Gum rounded out this ﾑeveready' team.
Hampered by the floodplain requirements in his plans for a new building, Roger decided to work with the existing building, squaring up the many additions of years past.
He and Curtis began the remodeling project in September, pouring cement, putting on a new roof and siding and putting up drywall.ﾠ After knocking out the back wall of the store, they began to paint and clean, and put down 1,500 square feet of wood grain laminate flooring, 1,000 square feet of which went down during that 23 ﾽ hour remodel marathon.
Roger is no stranger to the people of Buckeye and has long had a reputation as a hard worker - work that began many years ago when, as a young boy, he and his faithful dog, Blondie, delivered "The Grit" to many of the neighbors he serves today. He worked at the Buckeye Drive-In and now owns that property, as well.ﾠ He could be found in the hot summer sun in a hayfield. And, in his teen-age years, he went to work as a lumber stacker at W. M. Cramer Lumber Company in Marlinton, eventually moving up the ladder to the position of Mill Foreman.
Taking the giant step of leaving a guaranteed paycheck behind, Roger struck out on his own in 2005 and opened Seven Rivers Landscaping in Buckeye.ﾠ Although he liked the landscaping business, heﾠ is not one to let moss grow, so he approached then owner Michael McNeill about the prospects of buying his business, Buckeye Country Mart.
"I needed something else to do," Roger said. "The landscaping business was good, but it was only seasonal."
Buckeye Country Mart was originally built by the late Carl Gladwell, then passed to George and Sandy Gladwell, later becoming Snyder's Market under the late Bob Snyder's ownership.ﾠ McNeill worked for Snyder before purchasing the business from him.
Roger faced months of delays in his pursuit of "something to do." Delays that would have deterred an ordinary guy, but he is by no means ordinary.ﾠ And finally in March 2006 McNeill passed the business and the keys to the local gathering place over to its fifth proprietor.
Leaving behind the nine to five, Roger embarked on a seven-day-a-week agenda that includes long hours of labor and lessons in human nature. The work and responsibilities are tempered by the fact that he can make his own decisions about such things as the recent remodel, and he can surround himself with family in the day-to-day operation.
And who wouldn't want to surround themselves with the likes of Joy and Curtis, who can match Roger step-by-step in his projects?
Although he owns the business, Roger does not consider himself to be the "boss."
"I'm not really the boss," he said. "The customers are.ﾠ It is a privilege to serve them."
As a long-time working man, he has a heart for those in need.
"The store requires long hours, seven days a week," Roger said.ﾠ "There is some relief with Joy and Tink.ﾠ But what bothers me is when you try to help someone - and some were people I would give the shirt off my back - and they run up a bill and don't come back."
Early on in this business Roger wrote letters to his customers who had overextended themselves, telling them that he understood their circumstances.ﾠ He asked them to come back and continue to do business with him as they worked together to clear up the accounts.ﾠ And as a credit to his benevolence, many of them returned.
The folks at Buckeye Country Mart are proud of their work, and find pleasure in meeting the needs of the community.
"We're still looking for stuff," Curtis laughed. "And I'm still going sideways from working around everything in here."
But the results of their efforts have paid off in that the first response of customers entering the store is "Wow!"
Finishing the remodel at 6:30 a.m. December 20, Roger told Curtis they had 30 minutes to relax before the store opened.
That was not so.
The first customer entered the store at 6:45 and promptly wiped his feet.ﾠ The second customer entered and followed suit.
"I looked around to see if Joy had put up a sign that said, "Please Wipe Your Feet," Roger laughed.
But there was no sign.
It may have been more of a sub-conscious show of respect.
The larger space allows for more inventory including hardware and plumbing supplies.ﾠ A four-foot overhang at the back offers customers year-round access to mulch and soil, as landscaping sales and service remains a very important part of the business.
A few years ago, the DEP recommended that Roger put a chain-link fence in front of the diesel tanks. But with an eye for detail as well as for the future, an attractive white vinyl fence was installed, fronted by a flowerbed.
But these guys aren't finished yet.
"This summer, we will do the front," Roger said. "And then it will all be done."
Those Pritt brothers aren't much for talking; they're all about the work. And they do a fine job, while quietly setting a good example,ﾠ at a very rapid pace.