Brian and Brittni Owen opened the B and B Convenience Store in Huckabay on April 20 just prior to Larry Joe Taylor’s annual music festival at Melody Mountain Ranch.
“That was a good week for us,” Brian said. “We just about sold out the first few days and helped to make me believe that we’d made the right decision, that folks appreciated our convenience in this area and we would have customers that kept coming back.”
The new store is the first business in Huckabay since the Lawson’s general store locked the doors back in the 1970s. Everybody remembers Lawson’s but nobody seems to be sure of the exact date it closed.
Way before the Lawsons opened their business, Huckabay’s dirt streets were lined with wooden buildings housing groceries, a bank, blacksmith, drug store, service station, a doctor and other businesses.
Then time wiped it all away.
There is 25 miles of highway between Stephenville and the truck stop on Interstate 20.
Thanks to Brian, wife Brittni and parents, Bunny and Sharon Owen, local residents and travelers can stop for a snack, cold drink or a loaf of bread seven days a week at the B and B.
Family members take care of all shifts. That means long hours at the store in addition to individual work. Brian is a farmer and rancher on the family place at Liberty, a few miles up the road, as is his father, Bunny. For Sharon, Brian’s mother’s interest is the real estate business and Brittni holds a practicing nurse credentials.
“My family came to Huckabay in 1887,” Bunny said. “They were Confederate veterans moving West and they came from Georgia looking for something better. I was born here, graduated Huckabay School, so did our son, Brian. We love this place. There’s no place better.”
“ A love for Huckabay is one of the reasons I chose to decorate the store with pictures of the old Huckabay,” Brian said, pointing out several pictures of Huckabay’s streets and school taken in the early 1900s.
Today’s B and B is a far cry from those early wooden buildings. Refrigerated shelves of milk, beer and cold drinks stretches across one wall. Other displays contain the usual staples of bread, peanut butter, candies and canned goods. There are sacks of dog and cat food for man’s best friends. Near the back is a cloth-covered table, coffee pot and microwave where hungry travelers and locals can stop in for a snack or have a quick lunch. An ice cream box is close to the front door, filled with frozen treats on a stick.
World Champion team-roper Chad Klein stops his pickup and trailer out front and comes in, shaking the dust from his cowboy hat. He has temporarily hung three framed photos of his back numbers in the store while his house is being completed. With a friendly, “Howdy” to everyone, he heads for a cold drink.
Ruth Bussey, old-time television star of “Laugh In” stops by sometimes. Sharon sold her the property up the road toward Hannibal where she and her husband are building a wonderful house overlooking the valley.
Sharon has her own little corner in the store, lots of “bling” jewelry and studded flip flops.
“If I was going to do anything different,” Brian said as he watched Paul Griffin stop in for lunch followed by Hursell Whitefield picking up a package of donuts, "I would make this place bigger. I was a little nervous when the building was going up. I wanted it to be nice but wondered if it would bring in enough business. It has been even better than I anticipated so I am well-satisfied and of course there is always room for expansion. We’re thinking about that and new things that we can add. We’re always willing to grow.”