Citizens are often attracted to businesses that have a heart to serve the community.
Mike and Richard Carper believe it is their job to do just that – provide what they have heard people say they need in a gas station and a convenient market.
When the old C & M Market went up for sale, Mike and Richard began discussing hpw to purchase the property in late 2017. “We felt it was a new opportunity for us,” Mike explained.
They have now had the business for a year and have made many changes and will continue to do so as the need arises, and the customer’s desires change.
The first thing everyone noticed was the new name that was given, “Gopher Market.” Mike noted that he was driving down the road one day from Salem and thought about the “Gopher” which was the mascot of the old Mick-or-Mack Store their father Harris owned. Eventually, he and Richard took part ownership of the company.
The happy gopher adds to the pleasant atmosphere when people walk through the doors.
Harris had his boys in the Mick-or-Mack Store at an early age. He taught them the ropes about how to run a business. This was a few years before they built the “big store” on Route 615. Mike got serious about the business around this time, and truly took in what his dad was teaching him.
“When we built the big store, dad pretty much handed over the daily things to me and Rich and we learned a lot there which have now transferred to our two convenient stores,” Mike noted.
When asked if he liked having a gas station, Mike responded, “absolutely, as it is just easier to manage.” Mike also shared that he was happy to offer an unbranded gasoline “at an unbranded price.”
He continued, “it didn’t make sense to have another branded gasoline station a quarter of a mile down the road. They wanted an unbranded gasoline station to compete with some of brand-named stores, as sometimes the difference is pennies while other times it’s much more and Craig County residents reap the benefits.”
They carry regular, super and non-ethanol gasolines as well as on and off-road diesel. They also have propane tanks. “We are cheaper than Roanoke right now too,” Mike added before saying, “We also upgraded the store with a current point of sale system, deleted some items and added many others.”
Important items to them include New Castle and Craig County apparel such as shirts and caps. “The Craig County camo shirts are a real hot item. People in Craig really do like them,” said Mike.
For the ones who like to have a quick seat for an early morning cup of coffee or sausage biscuit, or simply grab a burger, hot dog or pizza, there are high rise tables and chairs to sit and enjoy while conversing with other citizens of Craig.
Prices are reasonable and all agree that the deli food is really good. A pizza made to order is only $9.99 or a quarter of a pizza is $2.99. Sausage biscuits are $1.89, hamburgers are $3.29 and a chicken sandwich is $2.99. They even have iced coffee.
There are many regular customers vying for the sausage biscuits every morning. They almost always sit at their favorite table. Every item is cooked in-house.
For the ones who like to add a little excitement to their day, there are the Virginia Chance and Lottery Machines. The Gopher Market also accepts the ‘GAS CASH’ coupons from Food Country, just as they do at Citgo IGA Express.
For the rest of February, one can get $2.00 off of a $9.99 pizza with a coupon in the paper.
“We have two stations here in town and we really appreciate everybody. When people, groups or schools ask us for stuff, we like to donate because we like doing that kind of thing,” both Richard and Mike said. “We’re happy and glad to be a part of Craig County.”