STORES OF YESTERYEAR: Piedmont was once the place to shop
In 1950, Piedmont, West Virginia, had a population of 2,565 and was the second largest city in Mineral County.
Today, Piedmont’s population would be somewhere around 900.
You could certainly write volumes about the history of Piedmont, but since my forte is business, I decided to concentrate on the retail businesses of Piedmont - both past and present.
Believe me, I am no stranger to Piedmont. My wife, Sandra Dipilato, was born in Piedmont in 1935. I spent many weekends taking long walks with my father-in-law, Patsey Dipilato, through the business section of Piedmont, reminiscing about the stores on Ashfield Street and etc. - both past and present.
My father-in-law’s favorite store was Dixon’s Men’s Store on Ashfield Street. Mr. Dipilato would always buy a new suit at Dixon’s when he would travel to see his brother. They would take in a New York Yankees ball game, hoping to see Joe DiMaggio play.
By talking to “Skip” Clifford, I learned Dixon’s had a full ladies’ department on the second floor. Skip says Dixon’s also had a store in Westernport, Maryland.
Talking to Skip brings back a lot of memories for me; watching Skip’s father, the Rev. Lester Clifford, play two saxophones at once.
Another popular store on Ashfield Street was The Style Shop, which was owned by June Gerfene. Ms. Gerfene ran a very respectable ladies shop, I know, because she was competition for our store in Keyser - Shapiro’s.
One of The Style Shop ladies, Faye Hill, came to work for us and she was well learned in ladies wear.
The Moran family later ran The Style Shop and did a great job.
The once magnificent, beautiful structure structure on the corner of Ashfield and Third street now stands as a skeleton compared to how it once stood. The building was originally built by the late Abe Feldstein. Built in 1957, it had four floors, with the H-P Store occupying the street level. The H-P Stores were owned by the Feld family of Oakland, Maryland. The Feld family also owned Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at that time.
The G.C. Murphy Co., located on Ashfield Street, stood next to the Presbyterian Church. Murphy’s was a popular spot for the locals. Going to “The Five and Ten Cent Store” was a daily ritual for many people.
The Lad + Lassie children’s shop in Piedmont, owned by Margie O’Brian, was one of the finest children’s stores in the area.
Across the street, the Sound Gallery, which has been closed for several years, was known for installing high-tech sound equipment in cars and trucks. They had clientele from all across the tri-state area.
Piedmont was also made famous by the Davis Sisters’ Bakery. The baker was located on Second Street and will never be forgotten.
Even though these retail establishments are now just memories, there are still many businesses in Piedmont that are flourishing. Duckies - a very fine restaurant known for their delicious wings, sandwiches and specialty dinners - does personal deliveries to its customers.
Another popular business on Ashfield Street is Tri-State Electric and Crafts; very accommodating to the tri-state area. The First United Bank & Trust - a long-established bank in Piedmont and the tri-state area, serves its customers from the recently-remodeled bank on Ashfield Street. Just up the street from the bank is another long-standing Piedmont business - L&M Plumbing and Hardware. There’s also Tri-State Memorials, serving the area for years with their memorial needs, and of course Fredlock Funeral Home.
Piedmont is also beginning to show signs of growth today with new businesses springing up. Sammy’s convenience store, Amoroso’s Italian Eatery, and The Drive-Thru are all popular establishments with the people of Piedmont.