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Pull up a chair at Wade's

Terry Jones sits next to Ruth Wade, former owner of Wade's Grocery. The Chester County business, most recently known as Dodds Grocery & Produce, had been closed before Jones has reopened it as Wade's Grocery. Behind Jones are his daughters, Jennifer Jones Campbell, left, and Michelle Jones.
Terry Jones sits next to Ruth Wade, former owner of Wade's Grocery. The Chester County business, most recently known as Dodds Grocery & Produce, had been closed before Jones has reopened it as Wade's Grocery. Behind Jones are his daughters, Jennifer Jones Campbell, left, and Michelle Jones.

CHESTER -- The coffee hunters came as soon as the door opened at 7 a.m.

This tiny joint, a decades-old haven for area storytellers recently known as Dodds Grocery & Produce, had been closed for more than a month.

In the weeks leading up to the closing, the folks who ran the store, Sam and Helen Dodds, wondered what would happen to the place that dates back to 1953 and stands as a fixture of the community near the West Chester Rural Fire Department.

But on Monday, the store opened again and the new managers gave away coffee and doughnuts and sold their hot dogs two for $1.

The place is now called Wade's Grocery, the original name that graced the store until the Dodds took over in 1999. And inside the renovated building stood the liars' table, the gathering spot where folks talk politics, life and solve as many problems as they start.

"Been full all day," new manager Terry Jones said of the table just before 3 p.m. "Everybody in this community hangs out here in the store. It's just part of 'em."

Jones, 50, a production manager at the Milliken & Co. plant in Jonesville, bought the store after constant nagging from his longtime buddy, Bobby Wade.

"I hated to see the thing close," Wade said. "It's been here so long. It's been part of the community."

Wade's mother opened the place and ran it until the 1980s, when Wade and his wife took over. She ran the store while he took care of the body shop next door. The Dodds came in after Wade's wife took another job.

Wade kept telling Jones that no one would reopen the store. He also told him to think about Jones' 21-year-old daughter, Michelle, who had worked at the G-Mart on Columbia Road in Chester for six years.

Give Michelle a chance to run the store, he'd say.

"I knew she knew the business, and she's probably done made about 20,000 hot dogs," Jones said, noting that the G-Mart has "the best hot dog business in Chester."

"I figured if he (the store's owner) made a go of it with a good hot dog and that was his calling card -- everybody in the world talked about his hot dogs -- I hope that's gonna be our calling card out here in the country," Jones said.

So Jones decided to give it a shot. He bought some of the leftovers from Sam and Helen Dodds and leased the place from the Wade family. He gutted the building, added tile floors and spruced up the walls. He brought in an old gas pump from the 1950s for display and plans to show one from the 1920s outside the building.

The only thing he kept from the old store was the table.

"Not expecting to get rich," Jones said. "Too far out in the country. But it's a nice location, nice people."

While Terry Jones works in Jonesville, Michelle Jones will run the store.

"It's like, you know, a quiet store," Michelle Jones said of her new workplace. "You have more time to talk to the customers instead of running around trying to do this and that."

But the liars' table was hoppin' again Monday.

"The table's full," she said. "My daddy's talking now (about how) he's gonna have to get some more chairs."

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