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Country store keeps 'old-fashioned' touch

| Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, 11:00 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Carole Duppstadt, owner of Duppstadt's Country Store in Buckstown, behind the counter on November 11, 2013. The store has been in her family since 1971.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
The shelves behind the Duppstadt's Country Store counter in Buckstown feature photos of family members who have served in the military.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Boots for sale in Duppstadt's Country Store in Buckstown on November 11, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Flight 93 memorabilia for sale in Duppstadt's Country Store in Buckstown on November 11, 2013.

Nestled along busy Route 30 East in the tiny community of Buckstown, Duppstadt's Country Store stocks everything from Western boots and Carhartt clothing to scented candles and alpaca socks.

Long-time proprietor Carole Duppstadt oversees the inventory of the family-owned business in Somerset County.

“At one time, I carried a lot of quilting material. Over the past 42 years, you can imagine the number of changes we've had,” she said, as she wandered the store.

“I'm constantly thinking of new things. I'm not behind the counter all the time. I run the business,” she said.

In 1971, Duppstadt and her late husband, Jim, purchased the business, which has operated as a general or grocery store since 1904.

Coy about her age, she joked, “I was 35 when we bought this place. You do the math.”

Family members still staff the store.

The store has evolved over the years, Duppstadt said. At one time her sons operated a chain saw and small engine repair shop. The shop at one time sold and rented cross country skis.

Work and hunting boots are still big sellers, and some mining companies send in employees to purchase footwear.

“I would say almost every day somebody will say to me, ‘I've seen this store so many times and I finally stopped.' People come in browsing, looking for snacks, looking for fishing supplies. Then they see the boots and decide they need a pair of boots,” said daughter-in-law RobinDuppstadt.

“When mom and dad bought the store, probably 90 percent of it was groceries. But as bigger stores came into Johnstown and Somerset, you had to diversify to stay afloat,” said son Mark Duppstadt.

“We can't compete with the bigger stores. That's how I got interested in the speciality items,” Carole Duppstadt said.

Customers can pick up their hunting or fishing licenses or purchase Flight 93 memorabilia, along with snacks from beef jerky to hard tack candy.

Above the counters that display slippers, maple syrup and apple butter, coffee cups and cookbooks, trophies from her husband's hunting trips are mounted on the walls.

“He loved to hunt. I was really happy he had that opportunity,” Duppstadt said.

Planning for the holiday season, she strategically placed Christmas ornaments, place mats and stockings along one wall.

Outside, wooden benches welcome visitors to sit a spell. The exterior sign notes the store's “old-fashioned hospitality.”

Open seven days a week, the store attracts visitors to the nearby Flight 93 National Memorial and Indian Lake Resort, historic Lincoln Highway day trippers and seasonal campers, along with local residents.

Although family members work at the store and handle the bookkeeping, Duppstadt keeps an eye out for what she thinks will sell.

One corner holds a colorful selection of Fiestaware.

“It was a big investment. I thought, ‘I'm going to go for it.' It's proven popular,” she said.

Her clothing selection includes Stormy Kromer shirts.

“That's good, American-made flannel. We very much support American-made products,” she said.

Duppstadt hopes to keep the store running and in the family as long as possible.

“It's a commitment. It's a labor of love,” she said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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