Home Russell County Campbell’s Creelsboro Country Store offers a slice of history, and more

Campbell’s Creelsboro Country Store offers a slice of history, and more

Campbell's Creelsboro Country Store opened on Friday, April 1, 2022. The current hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Downey Eye Clinic

Just across from a Kentucky Historical Society marker that tells a brief history of how Creelsboro got its name, Mike and Kathy Campbell are looking to preserve the history of Creelsboro in their own way.

In January of this year, the Campbells purchased the Creelsboro Country Store from Dr. Richard Perkins, who had bought what was known as the Polston General Store and turned it into a country store and farm-to-table restaurant in 2018.

The original store was built in 1876 and thrived while Creelsboro served as a busy river port, but as steamboats grew out of fashion and modern transportation and highways gained popularity, Creelsboro slowly transitioned from the hub of Russell County to a ghost town.

Included in that was the Polston General Store, which sat empty for years until Perkins purchased the building.

Since they purchased the building earlier this year, the Campbells have been continuing the preservation process Perkins started for what is now called Campbell’s Creelsboro Country Store.

“Dr. Perkins had done just a stellar job of renovating the old store, which used to sit close to the road, and so he actually had the whole store building moved, dug a basement and we’ve got a full commercial kitchen in the basement, as well as a big storage area,” Kathy said. “All of our tables are made out of the original wood from the floor of the living quarters from the Polston Store. It’s got a huge history, the store itself, and Dr. Perkins maintained the integrity, which was really important to us to do as well. It still has the original shelving, the original display cases, so that was really important to us to try to maintain the integrity.”

Mike and Kathy Campbell purchased the building that is now Campbell’s Creelsboro Country Store in January of this year.

Preserving the history of Creelsboro is especially important to the Campbells. They currently live just across the river on Mike’s family farm, where his family has lived since the 1800s, making him the oldest living person in the area that still lives on the original family farm, Kathy said.

When he was a young boy, Mike’s father rowed him by boat across the river so he could come to school in Creelsboro, and when he was big enough, he rowed himself across the river to go to school.

“The whole area was very important to both of us,” Kathy said. “[Mike] spent a lot of his childhood on the steps of this store and then also the Irvin store that has since been torn down. We own that lot as well, and we’re just happy to have both. We really never thought that we would do this. We love the area. We love Creelsboro. It is very meaningful for so many reasons to us, and we just ended up after a lot of prayer and discussion and thought we would pursue it and we bought it from Dr. Perkins.

“So if we can, in some way sort of preserve the history here, make it a little better and hopefully, someone beyond us will continue that because we couldn’t bear the thought of this just being torn down or abandoned or changed into something that it’s not.”

The store had its grand opening on Friday, April 1, and for now, is open Thursdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., although she anticipates those hours expanding to more days of the week as the weather warms up.

Kathy noted that she wants the store to be “a place where people can come and be comfortable and get something good to eat.”

A big initiative for the Campbells has been offering food and products that were produced in Kentucky.

One of the most popular products so far has been hand-dipped ice cream and milk products from Chaney’s Dairy Barn out of Bowling Green.

“Typically, Chaney’s doesn’t go any further than Glasgow,” Kathy said, “but they agreed to partner with us, which was a big coup for us. Their ice cream is just absolutely fabulous.”

They are also offering deli-style sandwiches using Robinson’s Premium Meats out of London, Kentucky, including bologna, ham and cheese loaf, pickle and pimento loaf, roast beef, country ham, regular ham, and turkey.

The country store will also carry meats that customers can purchase to take home, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and farm-fresh eggs, and will have a rotating menu each week.

“We’re trying to partner with as many Kentucky producers as we can, and most all of the products in the store are Kentucky-originated,” Kathy said. “There are some that are not; we’re doing some old-fashioned bottled pops. We’ve got a lot of Ski and Double Cola, but you know, some of those aren’t all produced in Kentucky. We’ve got a few candies that are out of Tennessee, but for the most part, the majority of what we have is from Kentucky and, if not, it’s Tennessee. Even our shirts, we’re trying real hard to be sure they’re USA made.

“I’m trying to just make that sort of who we are.”

Another unique service the country store will provide is kayak rentals, which Kathy said will probably start in May.

“We’ll actually put patrons in at Helm’s Landing and then take them out at Winfrey’s Ferry,” she said. “We’ll also offer a shuttle service for those who own their own kayaks and don’t have a way to get back and forth. We’ll offer to pack a box lunch for them here, and the route will take them past the Rockhouse, which would be a wonderful place to picnic.

She anticipates that they will begin taking reservations for that “starting in the next couple of weeks.”

“I think, basically, we were driven by wanting to share the beauty of the river,” Kathy said. “We are midway between two public access ramps, so it just made sense for us to add that to what we could offer.”

Currently, the store has seven employees but owners are still looking to add to its staff.

With a few days of the store being open under their belt, the Campbells said they have been “overwhelmed” by the support.

In addition to the customers from Russell County, Kathy said they’ve had visitors from Lawrenceburg, Louisville, Somerset, Danville, and Liberty.

The most humbling part of the experience so far, though, Kathy said, is the amount of support they’ve received from the people with connections to Creelsboro.

“There’s such a huge sense of community in this river bottom,” she said. “It’s been really heartwarming when we’re over here, everybody stopping to help or offering to help. We needed a dolly one day, and three people came with dollies. We just want to give a huge thank you to all of them that have just really helped us bring this dream and our vision to fruition.

“So many people have volunteered countless hours cleaning and rearranging and stocking shelves. It really has made us so appreciative and thankful that we are a part of such a small, close-knit community filled with just great people.”

Being first-time restaurateurs and store owners, Kathy said they are still learning by trial and error, but she said the store’s mission will remain the same as they continue to expand their offerings: high-quality products that people want to buy at an affordable price.

“We just want to continue to make this an inviting environment,” she said. “We have so much gratitude for not only our customers that have supported us in but for the friends and family that tirelessly helped us open in a timely fashion … We wouldn’t have thought we would end up here, but obviously, there was a plan that we were unaware of.”

Bottled soda like Double Cola and Ski are just some of the products available at the store.
Downey Eye Clinic
Previous articleThe weekend is here
Next articleBLAKE’S TAKES: Living life in the left-hand lane