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Store celebrates years of family, friends and tradition on the Appalachian Trail

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Kelly Sutton, owner of the Big Creek Country Store in Waynesville, N.C., looks at a history book on Mt. Sterling on the store's porch on May 26, 2016. (CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL) Kelly Sutton, owner of the Big Creek Country Store in Waynesville, N.C., looks at a history book on Mt. Sterling on the store's porch on May 26, 2016. (CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL)
Kelly Sutton holds her dog Chipper and stands with her mother, Darlene Scott, in front of the Big Creek Country Store in Waynesville, N.C. (CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL) Kelly Sutton holds her dog Chipper and stands with her mother, Darlene Scott, in front of the Big Creek Country Store in Waynesville, N.C. (CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL)

WAYNESVILLE, NC (News Sentinel) — If location defines the authenticity of a country store, then the Big Creek Country Store is as real as it gets.

The store is at the Big Creek entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Waterville, N.C. The Appalachian Trail is one mile away, and during the summer the nearby fields attract elk and black bear. Cataloochee is 16 miles away on the other side of Mount Sterling, and Davenport Gap, where the A.T. exits the Smokies, is just up the road.

Big Creek Country Store was built in 1927, just a few years before the Smokies was established as a national park. The original owners, Mack and Etta Caldwell, supplied the local community with everything from cattle feed and hardware to clothing and tobacco. Today, the store is owned and operated by Kelly Sutton, the Caldwells/ 30-year-old great-granddaughter.

Big Creek Country Store sells camping supplies, heat-treated firewood, cold drinks, canned foods and glass bottle decorations that Sutton makes herself. Hikers, horseback riders and tourists are regular customers, but Sutton also caters to the Mt. Sterling community, where she and her family have lived for generations.

Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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