WVVA Hometown Hero: McDowell County merchant puts people first

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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RODERFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - 91-year-old Jimmy Hampton is a big name in the small community of Roderfield, a few miles outside the county seat of Welch, West Virginia. Hampton lives in the same community he was born in 91 years ago. He has owned Jimmy’s Hardware and Supply and Jimmy’s Furniture and Appliance since the late 1960′s. It seems his honesty is how he got his start in business when he was just 14 years old.

“The way I started I went to the store for my mother. There was a dime laying on the ice cream freezer. I picked it up and I took it to Mr. McCoy and gave it to him. He gave me a job, and in 1968 he retired and sold me the store,” Hampton said.

Sixteen years before going into business opening Jimmy’s Hardware and Supply, Hampton shipped off to war on the Korean peninsula, where he spent two years in the fight against the North Koreans, “And the fighting was tough, but I, it was tough but other guys had it so much tougher than me. I was in a tank battalion, you know, I could ride, at least, where others walked,” said Hampton, who served two years in a tank battalion there. He says he was tickled to death to get back home to his wife, to whom he was married to for nearly 70 years before her passing. Together, they gave back to their community in a number of ways, from giving some merchandise to those in obvious need, to Hampton’s work with the Shriners. He did more than dress up like a clown for parades, he actually transported countless kids to hospitals for treatments, " You know you know, I’m not a hero. The heroes are these little kids that go to the shrine, hospitals, travel, long distances...” Hampton said.

One employee who’s been working there 54 years says kindness is part of Hampton’s business plan, " We are very blessed here, the community is blessed to have had him and his wife. They both are very giving and loving people. And I don’t know what the community would do, would be like if they were not here. And the store has been here for a long time , and you know his first goal is his customers. He wants to make sure that we have what they need. We don’t want them going anywhere else. We want them to come here and that’s why we try so hard to have what this community needs,” said Lynn Walker, who adds that Jimmy’s Hardware and supply is the only job she’s ever had and she began working there when she was 17. Hampton’s Daughter, Kathy Hampton Daniels says the lessons her parents taught her growing up focused showing love to others and... “Well they always taught we weren’t better than anybody else. Same way everybody puts their pants on the same way. You teach, no, you treat the CEO and the janitor the exact same way. You don’t have you don’t have preferential treatment for somebody that may be a higher has a higher status in life, Daniels said.”

Hampton’s status and longevity as a business owner in his community is a credit to a core belief he shared with us, but we asked for the secret to his success, “You’ve got to work for the customer, the customer don’t need to work for you, you just need to, are used to have a slogan on our grocery bags, “if things go wrong, no need to fight, we’ll take the blame and make it right” so that’s is about as good an answer as I can give you,” Hampton said with a grin, adding his generosity isn’t predicated on what he might receive in return, “It’s not what you get out of it it’s what you give. You don’t, you don’t do something to expect something back, never! I don’t. Anything you give away, comes back to you somehow. If you give it with a willing heart, not expecting anything, it will come back.,” Hampton said.

It’s that attitude in giving, a businessman who caters to his customers, and his actions in life and in his community of Roderfield, West Virginia that makes Jimmy Hampton a WVVA Hometown Hero.