Lincoln Stamper says he knew it would would require a lot of good old fashion manual labor to bring the old dry cleaners building back to life. Stamper, however, is not afraid of a little hard work.
He is quick to point out he has not tackled the task alone, with his wife, Christy, and several family members supporting the renovation at 420 Railroad Street on numerous levels.
“It was White Town Cleaners for 60 or 70 years,” Stamper said, explaining the business was owned and operated by Ralph and Alice Asher for about 40 of those years, and the dry cleaning business was later acquired by the Hignite family.
Stamper smiles as he recalls visiting the dry cleaning shop with his grandmother around 20 years ago, “Back when Olive Hill was more active.”
The floods of 2010 spelled the end of the business as flood waters damaged nearly every structure in downtown Olive Hill. While the decade-old damage was notable, Stamper said he was pleasantly surprised to find the structure itself to be in excellent condition.
“It’s all in great shape. It’s kind of like me – it just needs a bit of cosmetic work,” he said with a hearty chuckle.
“The first thing we did was plant flowers in pots and cleared the trees growing out of the steps,” he said, adding the entire exterior will soon be pressure washed.
Stamper became interested in the building when he drove by one day and noticed a small, paper sign in the window. He tracked the building’s owner, Carol James (through Hazel Messer), reviewed financial options and made an offer. Asked if he got a good deal, Stamper nods and says, “Oh yeah. Absolutely.”
The building was also full of antiquated, and quite heavy, dry-cleaning equipment including steam presses and a massive centrifuge.
“It was a large pile of scrap metal in a dry building,” he said, explaining he had to build a skid for a “Cyclone” unit and pull it out of the side door with help from a tractor.
A fan of old things, Stamper confessed he had a fondness for the old machines.
“Everything I have is 40-plus years old, so I took a liking to that stuff. But, we just don’t have room for it,” he said.
With the old machines out of the way, Stamper and family tackled the old pipes and other non-functional lines and began looking at ways to use some of the old stuff, including the racks used to store the cleaned clothes. The old cash register, for example, will likely be used as a display piece and old desks will be used for counter space.
The second floor is a three-bedroom apartment which will be renovated and offered as a rental property, Stamper said, and a space in back will be used for a landscaping and small-engine repair business to be called Brax Lawn Care & Small Engine Repair.
If all goes according to schedule they believe the building will welcome customers to their new shop “by June or July.”
The building will be the new home of Trinity Sister’s Design, which is now a home-based business offering custom apparel, boutique apparel and other items including jewelry, home decor and signs.
The shop is owned by Chisty Stamper and her sisters, Ashley Johnson and Brooke Nolen.
“We have a Facebook page and an Etsy shop. People can find us at both of those places right now,” Christy Stamper said, explaining she and her sisters have plans to offer high quality items at affordable prices.
Stamper said she is definitely looking forward to moving in and getting busy.
“It will be amazing because doing it out of the house … it’s just too much,” explaining she most often meets her customers at Dairy Queen to do business.
A Belief In Hard Work
Lincoln and Christy Stamper, both 26, believe in applying themselves. He strongly credits programs including FFA and 4-H for his approach to life. As the current Vice President of the Olive Hill Area Chamber of Commerce, he said early lessons in public speaking have become particularly valuable.
“That helped a lot with leadership skills,” he observed.
Other than annual vacations in Gatlinburg, the Stampers say they don’t have many recreational pursuits. Both 26, he is a member of the West Carter High School Class of 2012 and they have one son, Braxton, who is two years old. He also reports to work at the Mountain Enterprises quarry at the edge of Olive Hill.
The Stampers first met when she was working as a waitress at Walker’s Family Restaurant in downtown Olive Hill, but lost touch when she took a job in Morehead.
“We reconnected on Facebook then met and had Dairy Queen and we’ve been together since,” she said.
The young couple also recently finished building their own home from the ground up.
“It has been the biggest mistake of my life. I know everything I did wrong,” he said, laughing.
|The effort to renovate the former White Town Dry Cleaners building has been a family effort. Seen here are Danny Stamper, Donna Stamper, Lincoln Stamper, Braxton Stamper, Zachary Johnson, Taylor Johnson, Christy Stamper, Peggy Nolen, Brooke Nolen and Ashley Johnson.|
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post