HOT OFF THE PRESS
Paul Yandura + Donald Hitchcock
Life in the Country
"A D.C. couple decamps to West Virginia to open a destination general store that champions all things American-made.
The historic Main Street storefront in Wardensville, West Virginia, had been many things over the years – a lumber mill, a feed shop, an antiques mall. To Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock, though, it looked like possibility. The couple, who met in Washington, D.C., had been regularly vacationing in nearby Lost River since 2008. Drawn to the verdant mountain scenery, a much-needed respite from their busy careers in politics, they moved to the area full-time in 2013 and got their real estate licenses.
As fate would have it, the Wardensville shop was their first commercial listing that year–and their first in-town purchase. After a few months of light renovations, they opened Lost River Trading Post, a 5,000-square-foot general store stocking exclusively American-made products that has since become a gathering spot for tourists and locals alike. “We also have an art gallery, coffee counter, wine bar, and, new this summer, a beer garden,” says Donald.
These days, Paul also oversees the Jonathan D. Lewis Foundation, which opened the nearby Wardensville Garden Market in 2016. At this nonprofit social enterprise, offering farm-based education and work experience to Appalachian youth, visitors can shop fresh vegetables cultivated by local high school students. “The young people here are amazing,” says Paul. “I’m excited to see how they will keep the community growing.”
Revitalized rural towns get extra boost from remote workers
When Paul Yandura opened a cafe and antique shop with his husband almost 10 years ago, he waffled on how to attract customers before simply writing “Best Coffee” on a chalkboard and plopping it down in front of their new business on Main Street.
A short while later, the Lost River Trading Post’s first customer walked in saying, “I’ve got to try the best coffee.”
It was the first indication that residents in this town of fewer than 300 in deep red West Virginia were willing to take a chance on a pair of outsiders who walked away from careers in Democratic politics about 100 miles east in Washington, D.C., to open up a small business in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
SOUTHERN LIVING: The South's Best Boutiques
POSITIVELY WEST VIRGINIA: Podcast Episode 149
West Virginia Transplants Work to Change Stereotypes and Build WV Business
"The Lost River Trading Post has reinvented the antique store. This establishment features solely locally curated and American-made products. You can peruse the gallery, find one-of-a-kind quality gifts, treat yourself to artisanal West Virginia products or pick up world-class craft beer and wine selections. The Lost River Trading Post boasts an onsite bakery and espresso bar
so you can start your day with the highest quality localeats. Paul and Donald created this modern mountain general store with West Virginia’s growth and success in mind.
Paul and Donald may not be from West Virginia, but they got here as fast as they could and have been making a big splash ever since. Wardensville is happy to have them, and they can’t wait to watch it grow even more.
Listen to the full podcast here.
BEST OF WEST VIRGINIA
BEST PLACE TO SHOP
POTOMAC HIGHLANDS REGION
LESS BEATEN PATHS OF AMERICA VOLUME 3
Written by David Kravetz
Kravetz's book series follows his wild back road adventures and documents of the the quirky and unexpected stops along the way. You can purchase your very own copy of Less Beaten Paths of America: Volume 3 here.
"Each weekend, people pour over West Virginia’s borders, hoping to enjoy a few days of small-town life before heading back to the big city. No doubt, many dream of escaping the rat race and putting down roots in the Mountain State full-time. Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock weren’t satisfied with a dream. They made it into reality." Read more.
Donald Hitchcock and Paul Yandura lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years before their journey to the Mountain State began. Searching for an escape from the fast pace of the nation’s capital, the couple began spending weekends in Lost River, WV, a rural mountain town, over a decade ago. After a few years of weekending there, they decided to make nearby Wardensville their home among the hills. Now, as full-time residents of Almost Heaven, they are both very active in their local community, spearheading revitalization through entrepreneurship, education and a genuine love for all things West Virginia. Read more.
In celebration of those who have adopted our Mountain Mama as their own, “Talent Transplant” recognizes the Mountaineers who were born elsewhere but relocated here, embraced our beloved state and now help us work toward a brighter future.
BEST OF WV
EDITORS TOP 10 OF WV
THE MOUNTIE COUNTY CHALLENGE: Featured at 3:50.
You can’t miss Lost River Trading Post and its Grasshopper Gallery—just look for their signature red cow. This modern mountain general store offers American-made products, local handcrafted items, antiques, food, and craft beverages. Read More
Check out the nearby Lost River Trading Post for locally crafted and American-made items, as well as antiques, food products, and craft beverages. Read More
Drive two hours west of Washington, DC and you’ll discover Lost River, a woodsy community of only 2,500 people that has nevertheless been profiled in the New York Times and Washington Post and oft touted as a restful weekend playground for urban gays. Stay at the Guesthouse Lost River and shop at the Lost River Trading Post. Read More
It started with an old feed store that came up for sale in 2013. Hitchcock and Yandura bought it and turned it into the Lost River Trading Post, a hybrid coffee shop, art gallery, and home-goods store. Read More
Off The Beaten Path: Wardensville is probably not what you’d expect, assuming you expected anything. This town of less than 300 people, 100 miles from Washington, D.C., is arguably not on most West Virginians’ radar—but it should be. Read More
Pop into the Lost River Trading Post and see where the 21st-century revolution started in Wardensville, complete with an impressive collection of craft beers and a made-from-scratch local bakery. Read More
Wardensville Garden Market a welcoming first stop in Eastern WV
"First, they became real estate agents in the area. Meanwhile, they began to develop the Lost River Trading Post, transforming a 1940s-era building into an eclectic destination stocked with offbeat antiques and home furnishings, a small art gallery, cappuccino bar, baked goods, a wall of craft beers and handmade area crafts." Read more
New residents bring a taste of the city to a rural West Virginia town
"The couple was drawn to the peace and quiet of West Virginia and bought a cabin with mountain views in Hardy County, about 125 miles west of Washington. The three-bedroom cabin cost $310,000, and they loved their screened-in porches the size of D.C. studios.
As Yandura and Hitchcock got to know the area, their ambitions started to transfer from their city careers to their new home in Hardy County. They looked to nearby Wardensville, a sleepy town of about 250 residents, and the vacant storefronts on Main Street began to look like pure potential.
“We came up with a goal: to make Wardensville a place to shop, stay and live,” Yandura said." Read more
Lost River Trading Post offers eclectic experience
"The trading post’s merchandise is constantly evolving, featuring a wide variety of local and regional crafts from jewelry, handwoven rugs, heirloom Fiesta dinnerware, rocking chairs fashioned from branches and tables made from recycled barn woods to tin signs, hand-painted axes and possibly the only disco ball for sale in all of Hardy County. There’s also a small art gallery named for Yandura’s past: The Grasshopper Gallery." Read more
It's A Short Drive to Wardensville for Good Food and Quirky Shops
"As travelers wind their way through Wardensville's Main Street, roadside art catches the eye and beckons you to stop. The Lost River Trading Company features only American-made gifts and is known for its coffee and fresh pastries. You can't miss the huge red steer in front of the trading company." Read more
Created in 2014, Wardensville Main Street was working to become an official nonprofit in April. Yandura and colleagues hope the group will eventually become a recognized member of the Main Street West Virginia program, which would connect Wardensville to more grant opportunities. Read more
A taste of the high life
"At the heart of revitalization efforts [in Wardensville, West Virginia] are Paul Yandura and his partner, Donald Hitchcock, former D.C. politicos who mentor local entrepeneurs and, in 2014, opened Lost River Trading Post. The shop sells wares from more than 125 nearby artists, as well as espresso, from-scratch baked goods, and craft beer and wine." Read more
This Is Not Your Grandfather's Trading Post
"It seems an understatement to say, it’s not a typical trading post. Both Hitchcock and Yandura de- scribe the store as an antique, Americana, upscale food market and bakery. The location was just approved by the town of Wardens- ville to sell beer and wine for off- premises consumption..."
"Yandura and Hitchcock pride their stock on being local - 'with- in a 100-mile radius,' Yandura said. 'If it’s not local, it’s made in America.'" Read more
Wardensville Joins East Hardy FFA And Other Partners To Create Garden
"Paul Yandura, co-owner of the Lost River Trading Post, presented an overview of the (East Hardy FFA) project to the council.
'To make this truly a community project, we are requesting permission to plant a small garden behind the old cafeteria behind the Wardensville Com- munity Center,' he said. 'This is an exciting project that will add to our wonderful community and increase access to fresh produce, while also providing an opportunity for East Hardy High School students to run a small business and become local entrepreneurs.'
Yandura said the Trading Post and Eastern WV Community and Technical College are partners in the project and have provided Miller with a $250 grant to get it started." Read more
Opportunities for Business Startups Available in Wardensville
"Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock, owners of the Lost River Trading Post, came up with the idea to engage partners in a local farmers market-type vegetable stand.
"The students are providing the labor to grow vegetables. The town of Wardensville is providing the space to grow the vegetables. The Lost River Trading Post is providing the space to sell the vegetables and Yandura and Hitchcock are providing the marketing. Jill Crossland, teacher at EHHS and FFA advisor is providing the supervision." Read more
Travel to Wardensville
"Today when people drive State Route 55 on the way to outdoor adventure at Lost River State Park or a weekend at the luxurious Guesthouse Lost River, they’re struck by an attractive facade inviting them to explore Paul and Donald’s Trading Post. They stop in for killer coffee or baked-from-scratch pastries and fall in love with the 5,000-square-foot store and art space. It’s like stepping back in time, only brighter and friendlier. “People are trying to re-create the old time, and we can do it authentically,” Paul says. Inside, you’ll hear ’40s music playing, in keeping with the building’s history. “It’s like a stage set and it’s supposed to be.” Read more
"No shopping trip to the Hardy County area is complete without a stop at the year-old Lost River Trading Post in nearby Wardensville. A pair of refugees from Washington turned a former Southern States store into a wonderland that includes a cutting-edge art gallery, a made-from-scratch bakery, the largest selection of craft beers in town, special coffees and several rooms jammed with ever changing local art, antique and collectible items." Read more
In the Backwoods of Lost River, a Gay Retreat
"With the legalization of gay marriage in the District of Columbia and Maryland in recent years, more gay couples are holding their wedding receptions in Lost River. The growing gay presence also has helped the economy, as gay men and lesbians added businesses like the new Lost River Farmers Market and the Lost River Trading Post, an upscale store that opened in September in nearby Wardensville." Read more
"For those who give trendy titles to towns, Wardensville is definitely “emerging chic,” with a new municipal government and the cool downtown Lost River Brewery. The year-old Lost River Trading Post is the acknowledged center of ferment and change. It’s a combo cutting-edge gallery space, made-from-scratch bakery and shopping opportunity for everything from local arts to the largest collection of craft beers in town and must-have oddities. The original wood floors are restored and polished, and the owners are enthusiasts ready with information and guidance on everything to do and see." Read more