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Longtime business closes, second auction set for Saturday

As long as I can remember, there’s been a store at what is now 201 East Main Street in Mountain City. While I don’t remember any names of the businesses of long ago, I suppose it had a number of names before it became The Trading Post. As The Trading Post, it has always been a place where a plentiful and varied inventory was maintained. Name it and it probably was available at The Trading Post. From Hardware items to groceries; from a variety of fruit to a variety of candies; from vegetable and flower seed to kitchen supplies; it was all there. The inventory also included, vegetable and flower plants, onion sets and more when in season. There were also mowers, chainsaws, string trimmers and other mechanical tools available with repair service as well for a number of years.

For many folks who remained loyal customers, it wasn’t just the variety and quantity of goods that were factors in their decision to visit the store. I think it was the friendliness and personal attention that was felt upon entering the longtime business. There were a number of owners in the past. Some former folks who have operated their businesses from that site in Mountain City include Ferd Gentry, Claude Curd, Sergeant Roark, Emit Roark, Ronnie Church and Ramona Church. Ronnie and Ramona’s daughter Cindy Church is the current owner of the business. Cindy is the third generation to own the store.

The store opened as The Trading Post October 22, 1951, when Emit and Betty (Payne) Roark, Cindy’s Grandparents, bought the store. The Roarks began the business by selling apples hauled in by Emit. Betty stayed at the store. Cindy said when people began asking for other items Betty said I’m here anyway, I might as well add a few things and from that time they added on items as they could afford them. The Grand Opening was held in 1953 when the store was more fully stocked. Along the way, Cindy’s grandfather Emit took on the dealership of Homelite, McCulloch, Briggs and Stratton and Tecumseh.

Cindy engaged Whitehead Realty and Auction of Elizabethton to conduct an auction last Saturday, April 13, with the aim to sell the building and personal property of that familiar Mountain City landmark. Whitehead Realty and Auction’s auctioneer Clyde Stout wielded the gavel and voiced the auctioneer’s chant. Clyde and his wife Shelby are Johnson County residents.
According to Stout many personal property items were sold last Saturday. He says plans are to hold the auction again this Saturday, April 20, since there are several hundred items still to be sold. The building also will be available at auction on that date said Stout. He also said the sale should be interesting to collectors and folks who are interested in antiques.
I was 13 years old when the store opened as The Trading Post. At that time Mountain City was the place to be on Saturday nights. Farm families would come to town to purchase groceries and supplies for the coming week, to catch up on the latest news and visit family and friends. The sidewalks were full of folks and the streets had bumper-to-bumper traffic. Stores were open late and there was a theatre in town. You can be pretty sure that folks stopped by The Trading Post before leaving town. The store remained a popular place to shop throughout its existence.