Pam Chavers is a straight shooter.
The owner of Carter City's Buffalo Market grew up “right here,” she says, and “fished the creeks, climbed the hills and swung on the grapevines” before graduating with the East Carter High School Class of 1979.
Life took her away from Carter City after high school and Chavers learned about the convenience store business with stints for BP in Alabama and Bonded Oil in Ohio before Carter County's hills called her home.
“Yep – homesick,” she said with a hearty laugh.
“I said I would never work tobacco again and that was one of the first things I did when I came home. It's just that my mom and dad are still here. My family is real close,” she added.
Gasoline, cigarettes and sodas tend to be the main things that move from the Buffalo Market. Asked about the sign out front that declares the place to be Buffalo Mart, Chavers merely grins and explains “It's Buffalo Market. Those other letters on the sign would have cost me $600 extra!”
Chavers spends much of her 14-hour days at the store preparing food, with cheeseburgers as the primary order Monday through Thursday and menu specials every Friday and Saturday.
Last week's special – catfish, brown beans and Mexican cornbread – brought out a trio of jailers from Grayson who make a point to never miss the meal.
“I don't make it except when I get a wild hair,” she said of the catfish and cornbread combo. “Next week it will probably be pork chops.”
Chavers likes the fact her store is the place where the community gathers to eat, drink coffee and “talk about the good ole days and tell stories of those who are gone and still here.”
If she isn't at Buffalo Market, Chavers says odds are she is “sleeping – because I'm here 14 hours a day. We're open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
If she had all the time in the world and didn't have to keep the store stocked and open, Chavers doesn't have to stop and think about what she would most enjoy doing.
“I would go horseback riding with sis (Frances Messer).”
For more information about Buffalo Market, call Chavers at 474-6402.
Tim Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 474-5101.