Since sometime around 1990, Tim Wilson has talked about painting a wall in his office overlooking the racks of clothes, shoes and accessories at Rupert’s Department Store in downtown Grayson – if he only had the time.
“I’ve been here 47 years and it has never painted since I’ve been here. I’ve joked about it for 30 years,” he said with a chuckle, shrugging as he reported he’s had time to paint upstairs, as well as downstairs, during the past few weeks.
Even with the challenge of having to move every single item from along the “Men’s” wall, Wilson was able to add fresh color there as well.
“I’m here every day. I’ve finished all my work at home,” he said with a chuckle.
Wilson recites the family’s business history with a certain tone of reverence, particularly when he notes details of the days when the founders traveled by train to New York City to purchase their inventory. The store occupies the oldest building on the block, he explained, and was the sole surviving structure following a major fire during the early 1900s. Soot from that fire, however, was found behind numerous layers of wallpaper applied during the decades since.
Wilson himself has watched clothing trends from platform shoes and Levi’s Big Bells “to acetate shirts in the disco days” as he tended duties as manager of Rupert’s, one of Carter County’s longest standing family owned and operated shops.
These days, Rupert’s sells more Redwing boots and Nike sandals
While he’s seen a lot of trends in small business, he smiles and says he’s never seen anything like this.
“I’m probably down to 5 % of what we normally do,” Wilson said, wearing a mask and gloves during an interview with The Carter County Post.
“We are doing curbside service, and of course that’s difficult,” he said last week
Using the store’s Facebook page and a telephone, Wilson said customers have been able to connect with Rupert’s staff.
“We will send pictures if you call in and tell us what you’re looking for,” he said.
Wilson said he felt it important to keep Rupert’s open, even though sales have been super slow.
“I always felt clothing was a like food and shelter – a necessity,” he said, again shrugging his shoulders slightly, then adding “But, I would ask you … Could you walk outside without it?”
Wilson said he and Rupert’s staff of seven full and part time employees are “just trying to do our part” until business returns to some sense of normalcy.
“United we stand and divided we fall. I think this is a good example right here.”
Rupert’s Department Store, located at 132 E. Main Street, Grayson is currently open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information and personal service, call 606-474-5341.
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post