Located in Scarbro, W.Va., Whipple is owned and operated by Joy Lynn, her husband, Chuck, and their kids. Joy used to pass by the place as a girl growing up in West Virginia. It looked like a palace, she said.
By the time she and her husband bought it, the Whipple store had fallen into disrepair. But it had good bones and Joy saw magic there. And lots and lots of history. Though she’s a bit of a snowbird, she and her family spend Spring, Summer and Fall giving tours and preserving the place the best way they know how. I’m not going to tell you Joy’s stories because those belong to her, and she’s got several books of her own that she’ll get on paper some day — oral histories about the store and coal camp life. But you’ll hear some of those stories if you take a tour with her. She’ll show you the safe, tell you some secrets about the second floor, and show you the carvings on the walls. She’ll tell you about the embalming room in the basement (she doesn’t like to go down there herself) and she’ll show you where to stand on the main floor so you can hear people whispering across the way. The store is open from May to November, and they have haunted history tours in October. You won’t find much gloss and polish there — just authenticity. It’s a place where your imagination can run free and where you can hear good, basic storytelling at its best. The New River Gorge is close by, too, so there are plenty of reasons to stop the car.