‘A step back in time’: Carter’s General Store keeping tradition alive for nearly 150 years

Carter’s General Store has been a place for the community in Leesville since 1879

We’re kicking off another week in your town. This time, we’re taking a closer look at Campbell County.

LEESVILLE, Va. – We’re kicking off another week in your town. This time, we’re taking a closer look at Campbell County. Starting with a hidden gem on the outskirts of Altavista that will take you back in time.

The general store has been tucked away in Leesville for more than a century. Its unique look pulls those driving by in all the time, but it’s what you’ll find on the inside that keeps them coming back.

From familiar faces and friendly conversations to locally grown treats and handmade crafts, it’s all part of the tradition at Carter’s General Store since 1879.

“We’ve been coming here for probably 25 years, 30 years,” John Kese says.

But tradition went away for those like Kese and wife, Mary, when the store closed its doors a few years back.

“We missed it,” Kese says. “People around here missed it because it’s part of the community.”

“My father-in-law, it was his idea to purchase the store back in 2019,” current owner Cheri Goldsmith says. “He wanted to honor his wife, Hellen Carter, and the community.”

With Carter’s General back in the family, Goldsmith and her husband got to work right away. You might be able to guess who their first customer was.

“I was going by, glad to see there was someone working on it,” Kesse says. “I stopped by, they weren’t open. Someone was knocking on the door, they said, ‘We’re open. Come on in.’ I’ve been coming by ever since.”

And so have many more.

“I come here all the time, right, Cheri?” Edward Sheehan laughed.

“It’s a step back in time, which is what we really wanted to do,” Goldsmith says. “We wanted to keep it as original as possible.”

While they’ve kept much of the shop’s history around with antiques and old photos, the Goldsmiths are starting a few new traditions like fish-fry Fridays and live music.

The one thing here to stay? The sense of community.

“Carter’s General is a place for the community,” Sheehan says. “We always come in here to chat, catch up and we have a great time.”

This is just the start of our weeklong coverage in Campbell County. We’ll have several more unique spots for you to visit and things to see in the area on Friday.

About the Author:

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.