GRAFTON— After being in business for nearly seven decades, a local establishment will soon be closing its doors for good.
Farmers Delight has been a staple of the Grafton community for the past 68 years, serving as not only the local hardware store, but a one-stop shop that carries a little of everything, but now, owner Tony Veltri says it is time to keep a promise that he made to his wife 18 years ago and retire.
Veltri shared that his wife retired from being a schoolteacher in 1999, and told her then that he would retire. However, he said that he just wasn’t ready then. Now on the heels of his 80th birthday, he says it is time leave the retail business behind, and spend time with his grandkids and travel with his wife.
“There is so much I want to see and do,” he commented. “I would love to visit the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. There is even so much here in West Virginia that I have yet to see.”
Farmers Delight first opened its doors in the Webster community in 1949, located beside a small grocery store owned and operated by Veltri’s parents.
He explained that the idea for Farmers Delight came from the abundant amount of animal feed his parents would sell at their grocery store. During his teenage years, Veltri ran the store for his parents after school and in his free time.
Over the years, Veltri worked hard and poured his heart into the store, adding additional merchandise to reach even more customers.
Veltri continued to grow the store throughout his years in high school. He graduated from Grafton High School in the spring of 1955, and was approached by his parents about furthering his education at Purdue University.
“They had the money to send me, and they wanted me to go,” he shared.
However, Veltri saw his future a bit differently and just couldn’t part with the store he had grown to love.
“No one will ever know if I made the right choice back then,” he said. “But I sure feel like I did.”
When asked what he would have studied had he gone to Purdue, he said that he never thought that far into it because he knew the store is where he was meant to be.
By the mid-1980s, the animal feed store in Webster had grown into so much more, carrying hardware, farm items and fertilizers. His merchandise had taken over and outgrown his building that is when the decision came to move his store into Grafton.
“The move to Grafton also allowed us to reach more people,” Veltri remarked. “It has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Seeing it come to an end is bittersweet.”
An emotional Veltri shared that he has had many customers stop in and share their disappointment in the store closing and have let it be known that he would be greatly missed, he even had a special customer that moved him to tears, when she began crying.
“We have always been known as the store that has everything,” he mentioned. “I have had so many customers say ‘I knew if I couldn’t find it here I wouldn’t find it anywhere.’ ”
This is a big part of what Veltri believes helped make his business so successful for so many years.
“If we didn’t have something someone was looking for I would try my hardest to find it, and if someone wasn’t happy I did all I could to make it right,” he expressed.
In talking with several of his customers from over the years, it became apparent that they all took notice of how hard Veltri worked to help them out, and that to many, Farmers Delight was more than just a hardware store.
Local resident Patricia Henderson revealed that her children used to love going to the store for marbles, while Donna Moore shared that she would visit the store as a child with her father, and would get a soda out of the machine while she waited on her dad to purchase his farm supplies.
“When we were kids, going to Tony’s was a big adventure. We could be in there forever,” recalled Sandy Davis.
Local resident Martha Shanabarger shared an experience she had with Mr. Veltri several years ago and still tells everyone.
“I have an older pressure cooker,” she began. “I needed to replace the safety valve on the top and I knew Tony’s would be the only place to have it. I walked in and looked around and here comes Tony, from being at his storage shop in Webster. I told him what I was looking for, and to my surprise, he pulled one out of his pocket!”
Veltri told her he had been cleaning out an old washtub in his storage build when he came across the valve and figured someone might need it one day.
“I tell everyone that story. It was just a crazy coincidence but goes to show that he truly had it all,” she said. “I am not sure what we will do know when looking for odds and ends. Tony will be greatly missed.”
Veltri shared that Farmers Delight will be having a liquidation sale for the next several months, so if you’re in need there is still time to find hidden treasures on his shelves. He said that all merchandise excluding animal feed is 30 percent off, and the doors will remain open until his shelves are empty.
Although his journey with his business is coming to an end, Veltri still plans to be an active part of the community and plans to continue serving on the Taylor County Commission.
When asked what he would miss the most, he replied with “my customers.”
“I love my customers, employees and products. These last 68 years have been a blessing. I have built trust and dependability with people of this community, and I am pleased to have developed that with them,” disclosed Veltri.
Congratulations on the success of your business, and we hope you enjoy your retirement!