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25Jan

Confederate and Union soldiers sometimes drop in Perryville store

By HERB BROCK

Boyle County has more than its share of food marts and convenience stores. Like churches, it seems there is one on every corner. And just about all welcome a variety of customers, from locals to travelers.

But every one of these little stores is unique, and Mr. Miser is Perryville certainly fits that description.

There aren’t many of these marts who can say their customer base includes Confederate and Union soldiers, but Mr. Miser can say just that, at least once a year.

These Rebels and Yankees happen to be modern-day men dressed up in uniforms for their roles as re-enactors in the annual re-enactment of the 1862 Battle of Perryville.

“We not only get a lot of customers who come here to watch the re-enactment, we also get a lot of the re-enactors,” says Jason Carrico, co-owner with his brother, Bryan Carrico. “They come in all dressed up in their uniforms, and that causes a lot of interest and excitement on the part of the other customers.”

Good for business

The re-enactment provides a good amount of business, from spectators and soldiers, every October, especially when the national event is held every five years and draws tens of thousands of people to town. But as much as Carrico welcomes the boost in business, he and his brother rely on regulars to keep the store open.

“These people aren’t just customers. They really are like family,” says Carrico. “In fact, this little town is one big family.”

Early one recent weekday morning, Carrico was busy tending to the needs of his “family,” selling store-made sausage biscuits and Burke’s Bakery donuts, coffee and colas, gas and kerosene, and snuff and cigarettes to a steady stream of people who had stopped off on their way to work and school.

He greeted everybody by their first name or a nickname, and they talked to him like he was a good friend. Contradicting the store’s name, no one on either side of the counter is a miser when it comes to sharing friendships.

A particularly strong friendship has been forged by a group of more than a dozen men, most of them retirees, who drop by the store every morning to sip coffee and exchange gossip. They sit at tables and chairs in the middle of the store.

“Most of the guys are from Perryville, but Elvin and I live in the greater Perryville metro area, about four miles out in the suburbs,” says Ivan Gardener with a laugh, referring to where he and his friend Elvin Anderson live. The two were sitting with fellow loafers Scott Sexton and Leon Kraut.

“Some guys are missing,” says Sexton. “They’re going to miss roll call if they don’t hurry.”

After roll call, then the conversation — well, the guys used another word to describe their chats — starts flowing.

“There’s no subject off limits, and no truth behind a thing we say,” Kraut says with a chuckle.

The camaraderie between customers, whether they are buying bologna or talking baloney, and between them and the Carricos and their staff is what makes the seven-day-a-week occupation worth it for Jason Carrico.

Growing up

Carrico and his brother began working at Mr. Miser when they were kids. The store was opened by their father, Bob Carrico, in 1976, and they got to see what running a convenience store was like from a young age. Their mother, Linda Carrico, also helped out.

After graduating from Boyle County High School in 1992, Carrico spent two years at Eastern Kentucky University where he earned a two-year business degree. His brother, also a Boyle grad, did the same at the University of Kentucky. When their dad retired in 2006, the brothers were ready to take over the operation.

Carrico is happy he made the move and says his brother also likes operating the small-town store.

“Bryan and I both like being our own bosses, and that’s what we are here,” he says.

But the main reason Carrico has no interest in a bigger retail venture is the “family feel” he enjoys every day at the store.

“I never really had any ambition to do anything else but what I’m doing now, and a lot of that has to do with the people I work with and the people we serve,” he says.

They are an “interesting bunch,” he says, especially the annual visitors dressed in gray and blue.

“The story that has circulated in our family for years is that my great-great-grandfather, who was a teenager when the Battle of Perryville happened, witnessed at least part of the battle or a side skirmish,” he says.

The tale is evidence of the deep roots that Carrico’s family has in Perryville.

“My family came here before this town was Perryville, when it was known as Fort Harbison,” he says. “We’ve been here a long time, and I see no reason to leave now. I really love working here, living here and raising a family here.”

Copyright: AMNews.com 2010
herb@amnews.com
January 25, 2010

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