Businesses come and go, but there are some that we never forget and wish we had the opportunity to give our business to one more time. West Virginia has watched many businesses close their doors for good, but some of those lost businesses still pull on the heart strings of many West Virginians. Below are 11 places from the past that you wish would come back to West Virginia!
1. Gee Bee
Gee Bee was a chain of department stores that began as the Glosser Brothers in 1906 in Pennsylvania. Gee Bees stores branched out into West Virginia in the 1980s. It was a full-sized department store that sold discount clothing, accessories and toys. The stores were mega popular with moms who had families to dress. By the end of the 1980s pressure from other growing discount stores caused the Glosser Brothers to file for bankruptcy and eventually close the business's doors for good.
2. Ponderosa Steak House
Ponderosa Steak House was a family staple on Sundays in West Virginia. Families enjoyed a meal out together without breaking their wallet. Ponderosa’s all you could eat buffet was a big time favorite. There are still a couple of Ponderosas in West Virginia, but the majority of them are long gone.
3. Stone & Thomas in Huntington
Stone & Thomas was a United States department store chain that originated in Wheeling, West Virginia. The Charleston, West Virginia store was one of the chain’s most famous stores. Stone & Thomas was a West Virginia institution for 150 years. In the 1990s the chain was teen friendly and often held high school fashion shows, tea parties and had Stone-agers programs for teens. In 1998, falling profits caused Stone & Thomas to be sold to Elder-Beerman.
Heck's was a West Virginia based retail store that was founded by Fred Haddad, a Boone County businessman. It was established in 1959 by Haddad and his partners Tom and Lester Elis and Dou Cook. In the beginning of the 1980s the retail chain was on top of its game, but repeated losses in the mid 80s caused its closing in 1990.
5. A Main Street G.C. Murphy
For over 8 years, G.C. Murphy not only served its customers, but brought them together. It was one of the original five & dime stores. Before the fast food chains took over, Murphy’s lunch counters brought workers in for a quick, inexpensive and delicious meals. G.C. Murphy’s prices were always low and its customers were loyal. You could find clothes, knick knacks and staples like cosmetics. In 1985 the store was acquired by Ames and the extinction of the five and dime was almost complete.
Hills was a popular discount store found throughout West Virginia in the 1980s and 90s. In 1991 Hills filed for bankruptcy, but was able to make a comeback. In 1998 the company was purchased by Ames, who marked up prices and changed brand names.
7. Harts Department Store
Harts Department stores originated in Ohio in 1954 and branched into West Virginia in the early 1990s. Families have a lot of memories of Harts - from buying Easter outfits for their children to having their kids photos taken with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
8. Ace Hardware
Ace Hardware was founded in 1924 in Illinois. When it branched into West Virginia it was an instant success. The closing of the Bridgeport store was a blow to the community and a disappointment to its many loyal customers.
9. Burger Chef
Burger Chef was a staple in West Virginia in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982 the chain was bought out out by Hardees. If you didn't get the opportunity to try a Burger Chef burger, you missed out!
10. LA Joe Department Store
LA Joe was a chain of Charleston, West Virginia department stores. At one time there were 70 stores in the chain. It shut its doors for good in June of 1992.
11. Diamond Department Store, Charleston
The Diamond opened in Charleston in 1906 as a small shoe store. In 1949 it became a full fledged department store. It was one of the state's most popular stores. There were two locations, one in Charleston and one in Vienna.