By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Let me start by saying that, when Steve Doocy asked me which dollar store was my favorite, I panicked. I love all the Dollar General and Family Dollar stores in Carter County the same. I only picked the down town Olive Hill location because it seemed appropriate.
Also, they decorate the area around my newspaper rack during the holiday seasons. How do you not appreciate that?
It was strange to be on television talking about dollar stores at all. Olive Hill isn’t unique in having a high number of Dollar General or Family Dollar locations. It’s such a common phenomenon in the tri-state region – and across Appalachia – that it has developed its own meme culture.
If you have spent any amount of time on social media, you’ve seen the image of a man in a yellow suit, leaning out from behind a tree, rubbing his hands and licking his lips, with some caption about Dollar General looking at an empty lot.
Depending on how deep you dive, you might have seen the alien jellyfish brain creature, floating across remote farmland, with a caption about scouting Dollar General locations.
The point is, it isn’t new, and it isn’t unique to Olive Hill.
But, for some reason, it has captured the public’s imagination. So, if I can use that interest to focus a lens on Carter County, I guess I’ll take it.
I’d much rather talk about the trails and tours at Carter Caves State Park, or kayaking on Tygart Creek or Grayson Lake.
I’d rather talk about the Shriner Bluegrass Festival, RudyFest, Rattlesnake Ridge, and bluegrass picking in Hitchins. I’d rather talk about On with the Show, the Trail Town Stage, and Final Fridays in Grayson.
I’d rather talk about how pretty the drive is along 182, through Oakland, and all the various elements of the landscape you get to experience in such a short space.
I’d rather talk about how Porter Creek, up to 504 and over to Hog Town, might be one of the most breathtaking drives for viewing fall leaves anywhere. And how, if you’re lucky enough to be driving the ridge at dawn, when the cresting sun paints the sky a brilliant crimson punctuated by the flowing black script of trees, you’ll understand for half a second the secret language of God and the angels written there across the hilltops.
I’d rather talk about Jesse Stuart and Tom T. Hall.
I’d rather talk about morel mushrooms and chanterelles and pawpaws; about biscuits and gravy at the Penny Mart and chicken biryani at the Hitchins Post, or pulled cream candy in the winter time, when you can chill the marble slab enough to work it.
I’d rather talk about all the beautiful people, and the rich traditions, and all the wonderful songs and stories and flavors we’ve contributed to the world.
If we’re going to talk about dollar stores, I’d rather talk about how they aren’t the problem, they’re the symptom of an economic ecosystem that doesn’t value small business.
How they aren’t any different than the coyote that came in to fill the niche left by loss of the cougar and the wolf – and you can’t hate the coyote for that.
But that’s an awful lot to fit into three minutes. I reckon we’re lucky we got what we did.
Contact the writer at email@example.com