MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) – A country store is the heart of Newby, Kentucky, a small community about nine miles west of Richmond. Locals walk there to get lunch or just to talk with neighbors on the porch. One three-year-old boy often arrives on his toy tractor, while his dad follows behind on an ATV.
But in recent years, Newby Country Store has also become a destination for tourists. Many days, cars line both sides of the road outside the store.
Longtime resident Don Long said, “I never dreamed it would ever be like this.”
Ashlie Hatton, who co-owns the store with her husband, Brad, said, “I think the biggest comment we get all the time is it just feels like a step back in time.”
The store has been in operation in Madison County since 1891. But it was in danger of closing in 2020 before the Hattons stepped in to buy it.
“We bought it to save it and then we just met some of the greatest people,” Ashlie Hatton said. “And one thing led to another, and here we are, three years later, and it’s like our heart and soul.”
Because the store has been around for more than 130 years and never closed, it gets away with some things a new business couldn’t, such as having gas pumps right by the side of the road.
That was one feature grandfathered in. Also, the store doesn’t have indoor plumbing. Water is carried in from a well and boiled so the owners can keep its popular lunch counter open.
Ashlie Hatton said, “If we start to do anything to the building, then we have to bring it up to current codes. And we would lose the gas pumps, for sure. We would have to code everything out and it would basically lose its nostalgia, I feel like.”
Long has been coming here since he was a boy, and his parents owned the store for a few years back in the 1980s. He drops in daily and has lots of memories of how it used to be.
“Yeah, I remember when a Coca-Cola was a nickel, candy was a nickel, and gas was 30 cents,” he said.
The store used to carry most of the provisions a farmer would want. Now, it’s more like a gift shop, with Kentucky-made products such as candles and soap, beer cheese and honey, clothing and vintage candy. It carries more than 60 specialty sodas in glass bottles.
On many summer nights, there are concerts on the porch.
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Ashlie Hatton is retired from the medical sales business. The Richmond native moved back to the area after living for 20 years in Florida. She said she never planned on being a shopkeeper.
“We never dreamed it would be just one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done.”
People around Newby are certainly glad the new owners know how to market the market. They can’t imagine their community without it.