‘Keep her going’
After 89 years and four generations, Kuhtz General Store keeps going

By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff

June 25, 2015

 Kuhtz General Store, W333-N6939 Stone Bank Road, has been in Stone Bank since 1926. 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

STONE BANK — Since 1926, residents of Stone Bank have gone to the Kuhtz family for whatever they need.

Meat, groceries, hardware, beer, food and even blues music — Kuhtz General Store, W333-N6939 Stone Bank Road, has them all and anything else their customers want.

“One of our mottos was if you don’t see it ask for it because we have it,” owner Craig Kuhtz said. “That was the big thing; people would come here looking for the oddest piece of hardware but we had it.”

Kuhtz is the fourth-generation owner of the store. He started working with his dad and grandpa years ago, and has continued after they both passed on.

The store entered into the Kuhtz family through an unusual trade. Craig Kuhtz’s grandfather’s uncle was tired of being a farmer. He found the owner of the general store, who was tired of being a store owner and they traded.

 Fourth-generation owner Craig Kuhtz points at a picture of him, his father and his grandfather all working in the store together, saying the photo was taken “back when we all had hair.” 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

The store was a full-time grocery and hardware store up until 1933, when, after Prohibition ended, a man installed a five-seat bar inside the store. It would function in that setup until 2008, when Kuhtz said the store underwent renovations; the bar was expanded and the grocery and hardware side was downscaled.

 A picture of Craig Kuhtz, his father and his grandfather behind the counter at Kuhtz General Store, W333-N6939 Stone Bank Road. 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

 Craig Kuhtz’s grandfather’s dad used to load up chickens into crates and take them to competitions to be judged by train. “He did good too. Look at all the ribbons. It probably cost .50 cents or a quarter to hop onto the train.” 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

“One of my grandfather’s sayings was ‘keep her going,’” Kuhtz said. “We’ve been doing a good job since he has been gone. He has been gone 11 years. I’ll keep it going.”

Kuhtz learned the trade from his grandfather, who was in the store for 70 years. After his dad passed in 1991, Kuhtz was in charge of 95 percent of the store with his grandfather still actively involved up until he was moved to a nursing home in 2001.

 Kuhtz General Store, W333-N6939 Stone Bank Road, has been in Stone Bank since 1926. 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

The day-to-day operation is what keeps Kuhtz invigorated.

“It’s different,” Kuhtz said. “It’s variety. It’s not the same old thing every day. It’s not like a factory. It’s a job but it’s also fun.”

A big draw for the store is when people return to Stone Bank. Kuhtz said people frequently come back to the store to relive the memories from their childhood. Although the store has changed, the feeling and atmosphere of the building all remain the same.

 A collection of stuffed animals at Kuhtz General Store, W333-N6939 Stone Bank Road.  
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

Kuhtz has found a way to add his own touch to the rich legacy the store carries with the introduction of a Blues Festival.

As for the future, Kuhtz said he’d like to make it to 100 years in business, but he is still figuring it out. The possible fifth generation of the store is still in school, with Kuhtz’s sons finishing college and high school.

Until then, Kuhtz will keep waking up every day to go to the store and continue his family’s legacy.

“It’s kind of like a second home,” Kuhtz said.