By Megan Sperling, Matthew Wolford and Bevin Fletcher
Fishing tackle and fairy lamps? Guns and ice cream?
You can have it all at Mountaineer Gun Sales and Mountaineer Country Ice Cream, where the owners make an eccentric mix work.
“My favorite is still good ole’ fashion Praline pecan,” says owner, Teresa Walsh, when faced with seemingly endless ice cream options.
Hershey’s ice cream isn’t the only thing served up at the warehouse-sized store, located on Point Marion Road in Morgantown, W.Va. Teresa, along with her husband and co-owner Mark Walsh, also provide guns, archery and fishing supplies, as well as unique and varied collection of gift items, ranging from mugs to lamps to rocking chairs.
“Our flavor system allows us to do a lot of things,” Teresa said. Mountaineer Country Ice Cream has 90 possible flavors in soft-serve ice cream.
The Walshes emphasize that their soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes are the “real” thing.
“It’s your fat content that determines whether it’s real or not,” Teresa said. Unlike places like Dairy Queen, that might have less fat content in the ice cream, Mountaineer Country Ice Cream serves ice cream that has the full fat content and ensures a full flavor.
“For the person that’s health conscious, we have a no fat, no sugar added frozen yogurt and we can make that in 90 flavors too,” Teresa said. So even those on a diet can enjoy a sweet taste of ice cream.
The Walshes opened Mountaineer Gun Sales shortly after Teresa moved to the Morgantown area. Prior to that , Teresa was strictly in the sporting goods business.
According to Teresa, it was always her husband’s dream to open an ice cream shop in the area, so they decided to add on to their sporting goods shop. “I grew up in this area and there never was one [ice cream shop] out here,” Mark said.
Though the shop’s most popular seller right now is ice cream, Teresa said that that’s not always the case throughout the year.
“It’s a combination, because maybe one thing on one side is selling, like right now it’s more of the ice cream and fishing, later on it’s going to be the sporting goods part and deer hunting,” Teresa said.
Trish Corbin, a regular, has been coming to the store for the last three years.
“They’re not hovering over you…They’re nice folks,” Corbin said. She was picking up a wastebasket for her outdoor themed bathroom, camouflage floor mats for her new truck and a hunting orange t-shirt for her daughter.
“I even brought my little girl, they have live fish back there,” Corbin said, “She likes to look at the fishies.”
Customers like Corbin bring business year-round.
Unlike many places that sell ice cream, the Mountaineer shop is open year-round. Customers are known to come to the shop looking for Christmas gifts and get some ice cream while they look around.
“I added maybe a few Indian things and they [customers] would say, ‘Well, my wife likes angels or dolphins or things,’ so I just expanded it,” Teresa said.
The gift items in the shop are bought from a family-owned business that receives many of the items from abroad, and some from locals.
Though Teresa sees things she likes in the shop, she never gets too attached.
“I get to look at it here,” Teresa said.
With a steady change of inventory, she knows a new shipment of items is just a week away.
Running a store is nothing new for Teresa, who says she’s been doing it her entire life.
“I always played store as a little girl,” Teresa said. This childhood love and her ex-husband’s interest in muzzleloaders is what sparked the creation of her former business in sporting goods.
Though the Walshes have the Mountaineer Gun Sales section of their shop, they are currently fighting legal issues and working to reacquire their Federal Firearms License.
“We don’t have a license at the moment, but we’re getting ready to appeal it,” Teresa said, “We can sell what we have in stock to West Virginia residents.”
Legal issues have not distracted Teresa from running her business.
“She don’t take no one’s crap,” said employee Raymond Smith, who has worked at Mountaineer Gun Sales for two months. Previously a customer, Smith often came to the shop to look at the gun selection.
“[Teresa] She is tough, but fair,” Smith said.
“She’s here 12 to 13 hours, seven days a week and I don’t know how she does it,” Mark said, who helps out at the couple’s shop as much as he can.
But Teresa is not alone, there are ten employees who are trained to work on the ice cream or sporting goods parts of the shop.
“So this is pretty much my home. When you’re here 13 hours a day, you go home, sleep and take a shower,” Teresa responded. The Walshes are very dedicated to their shop.
“It’s taking a while for people to realize we’re here and breaking their shopping habits,” Teresa said, “People think they have to go to Walmart, got to go to Dick’s, but we want people to realize there’s a mom and pop shop that they can come to and we make sure to make them feel welcome.”