KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – A new business is taking shape in downtown Kingsport, and residents of the city might recognize some familiar features from throughout local history.
Hudson’s General Store at 147 Broad Street is set for a soft opening in April before a later opening to the public and has been in the works for over a year. Once it’s open, visitors can find grocery basics, specialty goods and gifts in the main entrance before browsing a full selection of antique vendor booths.
“Ms. Grills was the previous owner of the Haggle Shop, and she had it for 60 years,” Selina Straley, the owner of Hudson’s, said. “And she wanted me to continue with the same ideas of antique vendors and antique mall. But I’ve always wanted to do an old-timey general store.”
While she’s a Kingsport native, Straley had lived away from Kingsport for 30 years before returning and starting to work on the general store. Straley named the business after her grandparents, the Hudsons, and has put in sweat equity since the purchase.
“The building is beautiful, and I’m more of a purist,” Straley said. “I want to restore old buildings, that’s first and foremost, and the business is kind of second.”
The building was initially constructed as a JCPenney department store and still features original ceiling ornamentation and restored hardwood floors. Much of the original floor plan has returned as well with previously walled-off bathrooms and attics unearthed after decades. That kind of work isn’t easy, but Straley said it’s worth it.
“I can’t really describe it to you,” Straley said. “Some days I’ve thought ‘I have lost my mind,’ but it is a lot of work. But it’s very rewarding, very rewarding. Sanding all the hardwood floors, painting, restoring the doors, I’ve been very blessed.”
Straley’s dedication to historic restoration isn’t limited to the Broad Street building itself, she’s also pulled in local touchpoints that longtime residents will appreciate.
“The doors have come from the State Theater, I’ve saved ceiling tiles from Wallace News Stand and the display cases, a lot of them are from Wallace News Stand that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill,” Straley said. “Once these treasures are gone, they’re gone forever. So I’m more about saving them.”
A soft opening is scheduled for April but will be limited to a smaller crowd so Straley can try out business ideas. After that, there will be an announcement for the general store’s public opening.
“I’ve had a lot of blessings here,” Straley said. “And more to come. Everyone is going to love it so well.”