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Looking Back in Pulaski County

Bryson’s Grocery has been a fixture within the Draper community of Pulaski County for over a century.
Today, the store is owned by Terry Bryson and his wife, Karen. However, when the store, which functioned as a mercantile, first opened in 1901, it was known as Harper’s, named after C.O Harper, the man who built and ran the store.
Terry Bryson said that from the stories he has heard from “old-timers” in the community, Harper was a “character,” who sported an unusually long white beard and was known for often uttering his by-word, “anuh anuh,” as in, “anuh anuh will there be anything else?” as he waited on customers in the store.
After several years, Bryson said Harper took in a man who had married one of his relatives and taught him the business. That man’s name was
Ben Ross, and instead of eventually taking over the business for Harper, Ross ended up building a store right next door.
When Harper died, his son ran the business, then eventually sold it to Ross, who sold it to Joe and Lucille Bryson (Terry Bryson’s parents) in 1954. Since then, the business has stayed in the Bryson family. It was handed down to Terry and Karen around 1979.
During the first part of the 20th century, Draper was a bustling railroad town, much different than the quiet community that it is today.
Bryson grew up listening to stories about Draper, mainly from “old railroad guys” who would visit the store.
He said that from what he has heard, Draper had as many as nine or 10 other stores and businesses, including a barber shop, mill and stockyards, and that there were still at least five other businesses still running when he was a child in the late 1950s and early 60s. He also said that at one point, the top floor of the store was used as a school.
Besides a fresh coat of paint and a few small adjustments, when Bryson and his wife took over, he said they tried to hold on to some of the old traditions of the store, while adding in a few modern features as well.
Bryson’s still only accepts cash or checks, and mainly sells groceries. However, the store also offers DVD rentals and sells kerosene, propane, and trapping supplies, and even hot dogs, sandwiches and slushies.
Over the years, Bryson said he has also sold gasoline at the store, along with lottery tickets, ginseng, wood, furs and hides, and has offered services such as game checking.
At one point, Bryson said they even had a walnut sheller, and a system in which people could bring in walnuts, have them shelled, bagged and weighed, and he would buy them to resell.
Bryson’s Grocery is the kind of store where, if a person were to spend the afternoon just watching what goes on, they would find that the
Bryson’s know almost all of their customers by name, and that some people stop by simply to say “hello” or catch up on community news.
Bryson said that most of his customers are regulars, and that he is very appreciative of all the faithful customers they’ve had over the years.
Besides the store’s regular patrons, quite a few customers find their way to Bryson’s by way of the New River Trail, which is located just across the road where the railroad tracks used to lie.
“It’s kind of ironic how the old railroad fed the town, and now, the trail is in its place and is still contributing to the livelihood of the area,” Bryson said.
With the trail in mind, Bryson said he has had a few ideas about additions he could make to the store that health-conscious trail-travelers might be interested in, such as offering smoothies.

As for the future, Bryson said that the economy poses a challenge, but he hopes to be able to keep his regular customers, and continue to hold on to the “old country store” feel of the business.

Looking Back in Pulaski County

Bryson’s Grocery has been a fixture within the Draper community of Pulaski County for over a century.
Today, the store is owned by Terry Bryson and his wife, Karen. However, when the store, which functioned as a mercantile, first opened in 1901, it was known as Harper’s, named after C.O Harper, the man who built and ran the store.
Terry Bryson said that from the stories he has heard from “old-timers” in the community, Harper was a “character,” who sported an unusually long white beard and was known for often uttering his by-word, “anuh anuh,” as in, “anuh anuh will there be anything else?” as he waited on customers in the store.
After several years, Bryson said Harper took in a man who had married one of his relatives and taught him the business. That man’s name was
Ben Ross, and instead of eventually taking over the business for Harper, Ross ended up building a store right next door.
When Harper died, his son ran the business, then eventually sold it to Ross, who sold it to Joe and Lucille Bryson (Terry Bryson’s parents) in 1954. Since then, the business has stayed in the Bryson family. It was handed down to Terry and Karen around 1979.
During the first part of the 20th century, Draper was a bustling railroad town, much different than the quiet community that it is today.
Bryson grew up listening to stories about Draper, mainly from “old railroad guys” who would visit the store.
He said that from what he has heard, Draper had as many as nine or 10 other stores and businesses, including a barber shop, mill and stockyards, and that there were still at least five other businesses still running when he was a child in the late 1950s and early 60s. He also said that at one point, the top floor of the store was used as a school.
Besides a fresh coat of paint and a few small adjustments, when Bryson and his wife took over, he said they tried to hold on to some of the old traditions of the store, while adding in a few modern features as well.
Bryson’s still only accepts cash or checks, and mainly sells groceries. However, the store also offers DVD rentals and sells kerosene, propane, and trapping supplies, and even hot dogs, sandwiches and slushies.
Over the years, Bryson said he has also sold gasoline at the store, along with lottery tickets, ginseng, wood, furs and hides, and has offered services such as game checking.
At one point, Bryson said they even had a walnut sheller, and a system in which people could bring in walnuts, have them shelled, bagged and weighed, and he would buy them to resell.
Bryson’s Grocery is the kind of store where, if a person were to spend the afternoon just watching what goes on, they would find that the
Bryson’s know almost all of their customers by name, and that some people stop by simply to say “hello” or catch up on community news.
Bryson said that most of his customers are regulars, and that he is very appreciative of all the faithful customers they’ve had over the years.
Besides the store’s regular patrons, quite a few customers find their way to Bryson’s by way of the New River Trail, which is located just across the road where the railroad tracks used to lie.
“It’s kind of ironic how the old railroad fed the town, and now, the trail is in its place and is still contributing to the livelihood of the area,” Bryson said.
With the trail in mind, Bryson said he has had a few ideas about additions he could make to the store that health-conscious trail-travelers might be interested in, such as offering smoothies.

As for the future, Bryson said that the economy poses a challenge, but he hopes to be able to keep his regular customers, and continue to hold on to the “old country store” feel of the business.