It's fairly rare for a business to last 75 years. It's even more rare for it to remain in the same family for that entire time. But Raybourn Auto Parts in Olive Hill has been serving the community almost as long as the city has had automobiles, and the community in turn continues to support them.

Even as the Fourth of July holiday approached and the store took time to celebrate their anniversary with cake and hot dogs, current proprietor Tim Raybourn and his son John T. – the fourth generation to work in the store – stayed busy helping customers find the parts and supplies they needed to keep their cars and trucks running.

"We just try to take care of all the area people," Tim said, explaining that he has clients come from not only Olive Hill, but Elliott County and Rowan County, even Morehead where they could choose to visit a chain store for convenience. Instead, they make the drive into Olive Hill to patronize their business, a fact the Raybourn family doesn't take for granted.

Tim and his wife, Carolyn, took over the business from his parents, J.C. and Betty 17 years ago, he explained. But the store has been in its current location, its third since the business was started by Tim's grandfather J.A. "Skinny" Raybourn, since 1962.

When his grandpa first opened the business in 1944 it was located near where the post office currently sits, Tim explained. The current store, a simple block building on Tom T. Hall Boulevard, isn't fancy but still exudes a sort of timeless charm, with parts stacked on high shelves that must be reached with long poles and a "low-rider" bicycle hanging from the ceiling.

For Carolyn, the family part of "family business" is just as important as the business part.

"All of our children have grown up here, and now our grandchildren," she said. "It's pretty neat."

Betty Raybourn, who has seen her children, grandchildren, and now her great-grandchildren grow up in the store, agreed with Carolyn about how special it is for a business to remain in one family for as long as it has.

Based on the steady flow of customers and anniversary well-wishers coming through the door last Wednesday, the community agrees that Raybourn Auto Parts is something special too.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

This Week's Circulars