Country store tradition reborn with new owner

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2004

The Old Crossroads Store at 19073 Old Port Gibson Road.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[2/7/04]REGANTON Along with a few touch-ups and some new products, the Old Crossroads Store has a new owner who hopes to keep the down-home tradition at the country store.

Dawn Lee, 30, bought the business at Old Port Gibson and Fisher Ferry Roads last month from John McKee. She’s not sure how old the tiny building is, but some say it dates to the 1800s.

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And the country store is as country as they come complete with a black dog named Deuce who lies lazily in the shade of the porch and barely raises his head as customers walk up the steps.

A rusted Crush sign and a faded Dr Pepper sign hang as reminders of a time when visiting the store was a big deal.

“As a child this was a big event,” said B.J. Crawford, 69, who remembers coming to the store for treats. “I was a country child. I lived two miles up the road and getting to come to the store was a happening back then.”

Remnants of the history behind the store remain. Even a cheese slicer, possibly from the original store, still sits behind the counter.

But it’s the people and the memories that keep customers coming back year after year and day after day.

Grey Ferris has lived for years near the store, and said he remembers looking at candy behind big glass cases as a child.

“It was always a fun experience,” he said. “At one time it was nothing to see 100 people on a Saturday at that intersection.”

The store is at a literal crossroads. Sitting at the intersection of the two roads, the store is actually located in a small community called Reganton in Claiborne County, but the postal address is in Utica a Hinds County community and Warren County is only two miles north. Fisher Ferry Road eventually leads to Utica. And from the intersection, Old Port Gibson Road leads to west to Raymond and east to Port Gibson.

Ferris remembers when the junction store sold hardware and clothes and about everything else one could need.

“Anything you wanted, they carried,” he said.

Besides selling staples like bread, milk and deli meat, the store has served as a stopping or meeting place for hunters.

“Hunters come in,” she said. “And people stop by going to Rocky Springs or coming from Big Sand Campground.

“Locals come in and buy the little things they need for the house.”

Lee hopes to continue the county tradition with a warm greeting for passersby and locals.

But new additions are in store as well Lee has plans to eventually sell bait and to host crawfish boils.

A medical condition kept Lee from working for a couple of years, but in November, she began working part time for the store’s previous owner and fell in love with the place.

Feeling better than she had in years, when Lee was told McKee was retiring, she knew just what to do.

“After getting off the medication, I started feeling better,” Lee said. “The guy wanted to sell it, and I liked it so much, I decided to buy it.”

The best thing about the store are the people who frequent it, Lee said.

“Everybody is just down to earth and good old country folk,” she said.