If you need it, Appalachian Sport has it
When 23-year-old Chuck Workman decided to open a sporting goods store in 1987, people told him he was crazy.
But he was just crazy enough to pull it off in fine fashion.
Workman, a graduate of Virginia Tech, began his working career making snow at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, then moved to Southern States, and from there to the Bank of Marlinton, now First Citizens Bank.
And it was from his upstairs office window at the bank that he first saw the “Going Out of Business Sale” signs at the old Western Auto store on Main Street. Today that building is home to J & P Furniture.
It was after the 1985 flood, a time when few people felt the urge to set up shop in downtown Marlinton.
Workman wanted to start his own business, but he wanted to wait about 10 years, he said.
But looking at that building day after day, Workman said he “decided that it was the building he wanted to be in, and it might not be available in 10 years.” So he took the plunge and opened Appalachian Sport in April 1989.
Workman became a flood victim himself in January 1996, and in December 1997 he opened his new store near the intersection of Rt. 219 and Rt. 39 in Marlinton.
“We started out with canoes, bikes and shuttle service, but hunting and fishing have always been our staple,” Workman said. “Our image to people away from here is that we are just canoes and bikes.”
Appalachian Sport caters to year-round outdoorsman.
“It’s pretty neat,” Workman said. “The seasons change, the sports change, it keeps rolling over. I see a lot of the same people – hunting, fishing, boating, biking.”
This family-run business has one full-time employee – Workman – and he has two or three part-time employees, as well.
“It’s been seven days a week for 25 years,” he said. “I don’t know the difference between a weekend and a weekday, but I do mix in a little golf.”
Workman admits the positives outweigh the negatives.
“I get customers from all walks of life,” he said. “The diversity of the people who need shuttles on the Greenbrier River Trail, to the locals – it’s the people, not necessarily the sports.”
Workman has some advice for young people who want to start their own business, including his daughter, Katie, who was the winner of the WVU 2011-2012 Collegiate Business Plan Competition for her catering business, Mountain Essence Local Cuisine.
“I jumped in pretty quick,” he said. “Don’t necessarily follow your heart, follow what you need to do to make ends meet. You’re going to have to do things that are not your favorite things to do.”
Being a one-man show sometimes –oftentimes – means you have to disregard self and time.
“Once you get started, you’ve just got to go with it and work it as hard as you can,” Workman said. “But I’m really happy with what I do.”
Appalachian Sport has everything an outdoor enthusiast could ask for – guns, ammo, archery, fishing supplies, kayaks, canoes, bikes, with all the replacement parts - in addition to lodging with kitchenettes.
It is a licensing and game checking station, as well, and sponsor of the Big Buck Contest.
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Hours will be extended to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning Friday, November 16, and continuing through Wednesday, November 21, to accommodate hunters prior to and during the first busy days of deer season.
For more information call 304-799-4050 or visit www.appsport.com
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@poc ahontastimes.com