This Preston County superstore is fourth-generation family-run.
“We can build your house, we can furnish your house, and we can sell you a gun to protect your house,” says Phyllis Hamrick.
She’s an employee of Street’s store in Masontown, and she’s not exaggerating. From lumber and appliances to fishing gear and school supplies—and porch furniture, and groceries, and toys—this one-stop shop has it all.
In an age when big box stores have replaced local businesses everywhere, Street’s has served Masontown and surrounding Preston and Monongalia counties for well over a century—including customers who make the half-hour drive from Morgantown.
Building a superstore
Back in the 1800s, the farmers in Preston County needed a local store, says Roger Street. His great-grandfather, Frank L. Street, was one of those farmers. “They thought he could do good at it and helped him get started.”
That was 1898.
Street’s was a feed store, at first. After a while, the Street family started buying lumber from sawmills on Bull Run and Herring Road in Masontown. They planed the wood, adding finished lumber to their shop.
Then, in 1915, Frank Street added a Ford dealership. Cars were transported in boxcars. Street’s bolted the wheels on, and the cars were ready for sale. Roger Street guesses that Henry Ford was only 34 years older than his grandfather and says Frank Street dealt with Henry Ford directly.
“My great-grandfather liked to build. He built the original part of the store, he built the original garage,” Street says. Both buildings stand today, although one had to be rebuilt when the cinder blocks started to crumble. Another of the early buildings caught fire in the 1930s. But the original Ford showroom still stands on Main Street. In its first rendition, the building had huge windows facing the road. They’re smaller today, but still display goods for sale inside.
Street always knew he wanted to work in the family business, even when he was little and his father, Dennis, ran things. “I had no use for school—I just wanted to work and work.” He’s helped in the store “since I could stock the candy,” he says. When he got a bit older, he moved on to bagging groceries. Today, the Street’s operation sprawls across 12 buildings, and Roger Street and his brother, Dave, run the business with the help of their wives, sons, and daughters-in-law.
In the main shop, walk down the stairs from the grocery section toward the hardware department to see historical photographs, including one of Frank Street and his wife standing in front of their Ford showroom. Continue walking down the steps to see pages of Street’s calendars going back as far as 1937. The store still sells Street’s calendars, continuing a decades-old tradition.
That lower level of the main shop offers hardware, paints, plumbing supplies, and more. Street’s has been an Ace Hardware franchise since 1974. Hardware is one of Roger Street’s favorite departments in the store, along with guns and ammo.
Street’s has the meats
But one department in particular draws people from all over: the butcher counter. Ham hocks and bacon are popular, and a butcher will cut beef fresh while you wait, too. Much of this meat is raised on Street’s own hundred-some-head beef cattle farm, and the rest is sourced from other local farms.
The meat is the draw for Morgantown resident Jack Taylor, who’s been a customer going back 40 years. He lived in the Masontown area in the ’70s and ’80s and appreciated not having to make the drive to Morgantown to shop. Now, living in Morgantown, he doesn’t like the supermarket offerings as much so he drives to Masontown for the quality local meats. “I’ve pretty much bought everything they have,” he says.
Running his farm and working hands-on overseeing the store, Street has been working with family and with employees who feel like family his whole life. “We’ve got a lot of good employees and a lot of good customers,” he says. Even the customers feel like family—and some actually are. Preston County resident Beth Witt’s grandfather was Frank Street’s brother-in-law. Her grandfather was an employee of Street’s, she says, and he lived in a house Frank Street built. When her grandfather developed dementia and would wander from home, “they could always find him down at the store,” she says.
Witt reminisces about when the store was a five-and-dime, with clothing, craft supplies, and fabric. She’s seen changes not just in the products Street’s carries, but also in the buildings it’s built and occupied over the years. Now she shops mostly for lumber, and for meat when she runs out from her own cattle farm. No matter what the store sells, she says, one thing stays constant: “The store and the atmosphere is really family-based and community-based.”
For new shoppers, Street advises just stopping by. “If they would just come up to look around, they’d probably be surprised to see what all we do have out in the buildings and in the store.”
Written and photographed by Aldona Bird.