WESTON – Woodward’s Country Store, located at 42 E. Depot St. in Weston, ID, is the only retail store and gas station within 14 miles and the town has just under 160 homes. It is a place to gather for townspeople and wary travelers.
Over the 10 years, Van Woodward took a Quonset hut that housed a store in the sleepy town and put a new face on it and changed things a little. The shop now gives people a place to stop and shop. It seems like there are always cars parked in front of the tiny store.
“It needed some sprucing up and then I bought the building plus the land and the neighbor’s lot next to the store, so I could eventually put in gas pumps,” he said. “Then in time I put it all together.”
Business was slow in the beginning, but as he dressed up the building with a new façade and changed some of the merchandise, including putting in crafts from some of the locals, it all began to take shape.
Right off he added a sandwich and an ice cream shop. The store sponsors an old-fashioned gunfight during the town’s Fourth of July Celebration. Woodward also participates in the town’s parades and is a strong supporter of West Side High School in Dayton.
“When people came into the store and asked for something we didn’t have, I made sure we carried it the next time they came in,” Woodward said. “In 2013 we added a Sinclair gas franchise.”
When winter comes and sportsmen have a hankering for something to do, Woodward sponsors an ice fishing tournament.
At the time he wanted to add some gas pumps no one wanted to give him the money. He found a way to add the gas pumps and it began to pay off. After adding the gas station part, it began to generate more revenue.
“There was a lot of semi traffic going past on the Weston highway and we have a lot of farmers here that have diesel equipment,” he said. “So, I just finished putting in some diesel pumps to bolster our petroleum business.”
With all the extras, Woodward takes in as much money in three days as the previous owner did in a month.
Every morning Woodward can be found cooking up egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, some with bacon and some with ham. Woodward has little trouble getting rid of them. By lunch time the breakfast food is gone, the fresh sandwiches take over from mid-afternoon on.
“We are more isolated than most convenient stores, so we carry more groceries than most little stores,” Woodward said. “Because of that it seems like we have a pretty loyal customer base.”
Prior to moving to Weston, Woodward lived in Salmon, Idaho and ran a carpet store and Radio Shack where he honed his costumer service skills.
“Working at Radio Shack helped a lot,” he said. “I learned you don’t want to sell someone a radio. If you sell them a good one you won’t see them for three years or until they need another one.”
The convenience store was really appealing because groceries are something people need every day.
Woodward’s Country Store is a place in town where people can go and get something to eat and get away from the grind of life for a minute.
“Weston is a friendly town and the people are great,” Woodward said. “Our motto: we just like people.”
Weston was first settled in 1865 and when it was at its peak Weston had a blacksmith shop, a pool hall, a school and a church some of which has been restored. The community was named Weston because it is located on the west bank of the Bear River.